Mainstreaming the environment in planning policy and decision making

Authored by: Alister Scott

The Routledge Companion to Environmental Planning

Print publication date:  August  2019
Online publication date:  July  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138894808
eBook ISBN: 9781315179780
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter exposes the need for improved mainstreaming of the environment in policy and decision making. Recognising that the term ‘mainstreaming’ itself is poorly understood and uncritically used, the chapter also seeks to also improve mainstreaming’s theoretical rigour. Initially, a series of case studies are presented that illuminate ‘disintegrated development’ posing significant barriers for mainstreaming efforts. It is here that the interface between spatial planning and ecosystem science is seen as a theoretical and practical opportunity space in response. This is formalised within an inductively derived mainstreaming continuum by the author which reflects different mainstreaming states according to capacity, capability and overall acceptability. Using examples from Birmingham City Council and South Downs National Park, the mainstreaming continuum is unpacked, revealing the importance of leadership, political buy-in, willingness to experiment outside established comfort zones and a collective appetite for social learning. Additionally, the concepts of ‘hooks’ and ‘bridges’ as translational mechanisms to help understand complex environmental lexicon and provide traction for wider engagement as a necessary prerequisite for mainstreaming success. This approach has global application to help improve the way the environment is respected and taken account of in planning systems nationally and globally.

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