Negotiating legitimation in environmental governance : a case study of public participation for water framework directive implementation in England
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The Water Framework Directive (WFD) constitutes the most recent and most comprehensive effort of the European Commission to respond to water quality problems across Europe. While member state authorities are encouraged to comply with the Directive's participatory require- ments in order to increase the effectiveness of implementation, the inclusion of public actors into-- water policy making introduces also legitimacy complications. Dominant discourses in environ- mental resource management have so far failed to account for the complexity within legitimacy and have tended to present participation as a managerial means to, enhance the effectiveness of implementation proceedings, After a theoretical engagement with this complexity, the research analyses within a case study the legitimation practices employed by the Environment Agency, as the nominated 'competent authority' charged with implementing the WFD in England and Wales. Participatory river basin planning procedures were observed over a period of two and a half years and interviews were conducted with participating actors on a catchment, river basin district and national level. The thesis examines how legitimation was performed by the author- ity, how this constituted the planning process and how participants reacted towards this. This research highlights how a non-departmental public body's legitimation practices displace the po- litical element from participatory river basin planning and force actors to engage into strategies outside of the formalised engagement procedures in order to realise their objectives. I conclude that we have to give recognition to the hybrid, multiple, and fluid nature of legitimation practices in order to avoid the perils of technocratic approaches while paying attention to the politics of environmental problems through more local and issue based engagement procedures.