Loughborough University

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Risk management at the local authority level : improving the technical-institutional-public interface

posted on 2012-12-11, 15:06 authored by Judith Petts
The research contributing to this collation of published work has been directed to the general area of the technical-institutional-public interface in environmental risk management. Decision-making at the local authority level in Great Britain has provided the arena of study: specifically land-use planning for major chemical hazards; waste management planning and the siting of waste treatment and disposal facilities, and the identification and remediation of contaminated land. In these areas, management at the local authority level is distinctive in that decisions are directly publicly accountable; a point of access is provided for public debate about risks and issues of equity in risk bearing, and decisions require a balancing of social and economic priorities against risk in the local context. Risk management at the local authority level represents an important interface where the 'technical' and 'democratic' responses to risk meet, placing significant demands upon information and communication within decision processes and between different parties. The research has examined the interface where the technical and democratic responses meet. It has characterised the broad scope of the public stance on risk and the subsequent demands upon information and institutional mechanisms, and has examined the development and application of decision-making 'tools' (such as environmental assessment and risk assessment) as a means of enhancing the credibility of decisions. Finally, it has examined practical means by which stakeholders in risk management decisions can participate in informed decision-making so as to achieve consensus. In seeking to understand the dynamics of processes and the interrelationships between experts, decision-makers and the public at the interface, the research has examined real decisions in the respective arenas of study. It has also benefited from opportunities to work in different, technical cultures and from interdisciplinary work. The research has been directed to understanding so as to suggest practical solutions relevant to the application of decision tools risk communication by industry and regulators and to decision processes to provide for enhanced public involvement in risk decision-making.



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


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