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dc.contributor.advisorDavey, Peter
dc.contributor.advisorO'Faircheallaigh, Ciaran
dc.contributor.authorGronow, Claire
dc.date.accessioned2019-03-20T03:22:11Z
dc.date.available2019-03-20T03:22:11Z
dc.date.issued2018-10
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10072/382717
dc.description.abstractAn investigation was undertaken into whether and how the procedural steps and activities of environmental assessment (EA) exert an influence on decision-making by proponents and politicians and improve the environmental protection outcomes of major development proposals. The investigation was prompted by observations that, while EA clearly does exert some influence on the planning and design of development proposals, the outcomes observed are often modest and are highly variable. The research focussed on understanding the internal workings of EA as a basis for explaining the observed outcomes and contributing to more consistent and substantial environmental protection outcomes from environmental assessment. An analytical framework was developed based on five key activities of the process and practice of EA: a mandatory and rigorously applied procedure; generation of accurate science-based predictions; consideration of alternatives and mitigation measures; public participation; and the Regulatory Agency’s assessment report and recommended conditions. Learning was also included as an indirect activity strongly associated with the process and practice of EA. Data on how each activity might act singly or in combination to influence development proposal planning and design and decision-making was collected by interviewing fifty-two experienced informants including proponents, environmental assessment specialists, officers from Regulatory Agencies, statutory decision-makers and non-government organisation representatives. The findings confirm EA’s importance as a unique action forcing mechanism, however the way in which proponents respond to the requirement to undertake EA is highly variable and the capacity and experience of proponent planning and design teams and EA specialists is the most significant determinant in whether proponents account for environmental considerations in their decision-making. The findings reveal that EA procedural steps and the large amounts of information generated by EA have little influence on decision-making by proponents or statutory decision-makers. Further, EA procedure and the information generated are dominated by the technical-rational model of decision-making and the positivist scientific paradigm, and inputs that do not align with these models are largely excluded. The influence of Regulatory Agencies and assessment officers on proponent decision-making is also potentially important, but is dulled by lack of capacity and resources in Regulatory Agencies. It is also notable that both proponent decisions and statutory decisions are dominated by a short term economic growth imperative. The dominance of the economic growth paradigm and corresponding weak ‘ecological modernisation’ approach to environmental management means that the outcomes sought from environmental assessment are narrowly framed on the assumption that externalities of major development proposals can be effectively addressed through technology, mitigation measures and offsets. Information and discourses that are not aligned with the dominant economic growth and positivist paradigms are poorly accommodated and space is not created for negotiation and resolution of conflict. Opportunities to debate and challenge these assumptions are also limited by lack of application of strategic environmental assessment at higher level decision-making. Thus, conceptual and transformational learning that might invoke more fundamental shifts in the values and principles underlying decision-making about environment and development is also suppressed. These findings indicate two possible directions for the future of EA. The first direction involves retaining EA within the prevailing economic, social and political context but adjusting procedures to increase the consistency and magnitude of EA’s influence on the environmental protection outcomes of major development proposals, as well as the efficiency with which this can be achieved. The second direction requires the transparency and accountability of both proponents and statutory decision-makers for their decisions to be increased so that the balance of trade-offs between environmental, social and economic values is much clearer and more readily challenged. Procedural changes that would support this second direction might include merits-based appeal processes, supported by more explicit direction on how sustainability should be considered in decision-making, acceptable trade-offs and application of the precautionary principle. Broader application of EA to policies, programs and plans would also support discourse and debate about broader societal goals for economic development; and provide for assessment of cumulative, regional-scale and long-term impacts.en_US
dc.languageEnglish
dc.language.isoen
dc.publisherGriffith University
dc.publisher.placeBrisbane
dc.subject.keywordsEnvironmental assessmenten_US
dc.subject.keywordsDevelopment proposalsen_US
dc.subject.keywordsAdjusting proceduresen_US
dc.subject.keywordsTransparency and accountabilityen_US
dc.subject.keywordsMerits-based appeal processesen_US
dc.titleForcing action: the influence of environmental assessment on major development proposalsen_US
dc.typeGriffith thesisen_US
gro.facultyScience, Environment, Engineering and Technologyen_US
gro.rights.copyrightThe author owns the copyright in this thesis, unless stated otherwise.
gro.hasfulltextFull Text
dc.contributor.otheradvisorMorrison-Saunders, Angus
dc.contributor.otheradvisorSerrao-Neumann, Silvia
gro.thesis.degreelevelThesis (PhD Doctorate)en_US
gro.thesis.degreeprogramDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)en_US
gro.departmentSchool of Environment and Scen_US
gro.griffith.authorGronow, Claire L.


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