Abstract: Report from workshop in UK to explore discrepancies between different groups of stakeholders regarding their perceptions of the policy implementation issues and the underlying factors that explain these differences
The River Dee is an iconic Scottish river, with many uses and values. At present more than one third of its water bodies are classified at ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ ecological status, but under the Water Framework Directive, the condition of all water bodies across the catchment should reach good status by 2027. Many actions are required to achieve this, in particular tackling diffuse-source pollution, and reducing the impact of morphological changes (e.g. straight walls and instream structures) that reduce the natural habitats available. There have been a great many recommendations for activities (measures) that can help protect and promote the good quality of the Dee’s waters. There has been much already been much action taken, but much remains, and it is not really understood what determines why some actions are undertaken, and others are not.
Better understanding of how to encourage action for the water environment is needed in order to know how best to encourage further action for the water environment. No one has previously tried to understand what constrains and influences actions to help the water environment, although theories about other pro-environmental behaviours provide a guide. To discuss what actually helps or hinder adopting actions for the water environment, a workshop was held with a small group of people owning or managing land in the Dee catchment. The key findings from this workshop reflect on awareness and agreement with recommended actions, problems or issues faced by those looking to implement actions, and thoughts about how these issues might change in future.
Despite the numerous recommendations made for the Dee there was good general awareness of most actions, although concerns about equity and responsibility may need to be addressed to prevent land-managers feeling they are being unfairly targeted. However, recommendations relating to drainage and ditch management are confusing and particularly contentious, so must be checked, clarified and clearly justified if any changes are expected to these practices.
Key issues affecting whether or not actions were adopted were not only finances and money, but the related issues of labour and time. Business and environmental characteristics of an enterprise also strongly affect what actions are suitable or feasible, with some recommendations and policies to be regarded as inappropriately inflexible. In future, labour, time and money are expected to become increasingly scarce. However, in addition to market drivers, environmental and climate changes are also expected to be a significant if unpredictable force. Recommendations for changes and interventions by policy-makers, that could encourage future uptake of actions to help the water environment, are not just focused around financing, but also about encouraging inclusive ‘joined-up’ thinking.
The results of this and a comparable Greek workshop (Deliverable 1.15) inform a conceptual model of barriers to implementation (Deliverable 1.16). This should inform the actions (measures) considered elsewhere in the REFRESH project.
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