Abstract of PhD Thesis

Public Participation and Environmental Decision Making – Implementation of the Water Framework Directive in Ireland

Ciarán Fallon, University College Dublin(2011)

A study of the participative practices associated with the implementation of the EU water Framework directive (WFD) in Ireland. The WFD represents a novel approach to environmental policy making for many reasons – from a sociological perspective it is particularly interesting because of its bioregional spatial orientation, its emphasis on public involvement in decision-making and its focus on the ecology of the entire river catchment systems. It raises structural, intuitional and agency questions about socio-economic systems, governance arrangements and access to information and knowledge and it provokes questions about the power and the nature of citizenship in a context of sustainability. This is a study of practice in two river basin advisory councils. Implementation of WFD was found to be an overwhelmingly techno-scientific exercise and deeper socio-political questions about values, beliefs, principles and ideals were largely untouched. It is suggested that opportunities for social learning and change were missed as a result.