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Investigating the process of policy change with respect to leisure transport in UK National Parks

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posted on 27.06.2011, 08:46 by Joe Kendal
The National Parks of the United Kingdom are characterised by their beautiful countryside and spectacular rural landscapes. They are also significant leisure based trip attracting locations, the dominant transport mode being the private car which typically accounts for 90% of all journeys made to these destinations. Excessive car use in National Parks is problematic since traffic congestion, environmental degradation, vehicle noise and parking problems serve to undermine the natural and recreational values which they are intended to promote. As recognition of the negative impacts of car use in National Parks has grown, so have calls for innovation and experimentation in approaches to traffic management and transport policy in these locations. Despite this, policy change has been slow. Sustainable and effective solutions to transport problems in UK National Parks appear no nearer to being found now than they were sixty five years ago. Accordingly, this thesis seeks to investigate the process of policy change with respect to leisure transport in UK National Parks. The study adopts the Multiple Streams framework (Kingdon, 1984) as the mechanism by which to explore policy change in the sector, and a case study method is chosen as the overarching research approach. Within the case study design, a three stage research method is undertaken, consisting of a) documentary analysis combined with semi-structured interviews with Transport Officers at UK National Park Authorities, b) two sub case studies at the local level in the New Forest and Yorkshire Dales National Parks, and c) semi-structured interviews with National Park transport planning experts at the national level. The Multiple Streams framework is shown to accurately identify important processes and mechanisms which can be seen to account for policy stability (and therefore inhibit change) within the National Park transport planning sector. As such, the thesis concludes that at the present time there is no significant window for policy change with respect to leisure transport in UK National Parks. A number of barriers exist which make this so. First are perceptions of public and political apathy towards transport problems in the National Parks, and a lack of quantifiable data by which to ‗frame‘ these issues. Second are competing agendas of key delivery agencies in the policy sector, where conflict between economic and environment objectives limit the consideration of certain transport planning instruments for use. Third are issues surrounding the technical feasibility (in terms of implementation) and public acceptability of a range of transport planning instruments, and fourth is a lack of advocacy for policy change amongst the general public and politicians at the local and national level. In light of the research findings, recommendations and advice to policy makers and practitioners seeking change within the sector are offered.



  • Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering


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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.

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