Sustainability Discourses on Controversial Infrastructure Development: Investigating their Mobilization in Environmental Impact Assessment

Rozema, Jakob (2014) Sustainability Discourses on Controversial Infrastructure Development: Investigating their Mobilization in Environmental Impact Assessment. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Abstract

This thesis investigates the mobilization of sustainability discourses in environmental
impact assessment (EIA) by looking at two cases, in the United Kingdom (UK) and the
Netherlands. EIA is a procedure used for predicting the sustainability impacts associated
with project development. It is reasoned that, where adverse sustainability impacts are
likely to occur, situated civil society stakeholders involved in deliberating these impacts
will mobilize discourses on how the proposed development relates to achieving
sustainability objectives. Yet a pertinent question is whether EIA accommodates
sustainability discourse mobilization, not least when the mode of public engagement is
taken into account. Premised on the differences in institutional design and political culture
between the UK and the Netherlands, the thesis aims to investigate whether and how the
external influence exerted by institutions and political culture on public engagement is
manifested in the mobilization of sustainability discourses in EIA. By focusing on the largescale
infrastructure development projects of High-Speed rail 2 (HS2) in the UK and the A4
motorway connection between Delft and Schiedam (A4DS) in the Netherlands, it is found
that institutional design and political culture have influenced sustainability discourse
mobilization only to a very limited extent. This finding has been consistent across the two
cases, despite institutional and cultural variance. Furthermore, it is found that EIA did not
accommodate the mobilization of sustainability discourses, reflecting the absence of
meaningful spaces for civil society engagement particularly with the scientific justification
of why the projects are necessary. The thesis concludes that institutional design and
political culture do not significantly influence sustainability discourse mobilization in cases
where the use of science and expertise mediates public engagement, further compounded
by the strict procedural aspects of EIA. It recommends that further research on
sustainability discourses in infrastructure development focuses on the complex
relationship between EIA and project justification.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Science > School of Environmental Sciences
Depositing User: Mia Reeves
Date Deposited: 11 Jun 2014 12:03
Last Modified: 16 Sep 2014 14:02
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/48697
DOI:

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