Bernadette O’Regan, Travis O’Doherty, Brian G. Fitzgerald and Richard Moles
Summary: This report explains a method and decision support tool designed to aid Local Authorities and communities in prioritising policies which benefit the environment and are appropriate for their circumstances.
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79 urban communities studied were found to have relatively low Sustainable Development Index values, with smaller settlements (population <1000) showing lowest values. Dublin was excluded from the study.
Communities require guidance on both the potential and appropriate policies to enhance their sustainability. Policy makers need to be reassured that implementation of appropriate policies is likely to have the intended outcomes. Some policies are more easily implemented in the short term and with limited cost, but others often with greater impact take longer and are more expensive. Communities differ in population, location and economic base: prioritising policies must take account of both community attributes and available resources.
This research developed a decision support tool to enhance community sustainability which is both academically robust (all predicted policy impacts are supported by published studies) and accessible for planners and policy makers in voluntary communities. The tool is structured around a set of indicators which may be altered to suit local circumstances. The tool calculates the likely impact of introducing a new policy, taking rebound effects into account, and identifies policies required to meet set targets. The tool was trialled over six months with Cork County Council planners and adopted in the preparation of a new County Development Plan. The tool was found to be user friendly and valuable in providing evidence for more sustainable policy decisions.
It is freely available to all communities. Click here to download the tool.
An accompanying Technical Guidance Manual is also available: Research 178B: Sustainability Evaluation Metric for Policy Recommendationhttps://www.epa.ie/media/epa-2020/publications/research/178a-thumb.jpg