Case Study : Engaging Local Communities in the Sustainable Planning and Management of Rivers

Rogerson, Robert and Sadler, Sue (2009) Case Study : Engaging Local Communities in the Sustainable Planning and Management of Rivers. Homes and Communities Agency.

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This project explored the connections between people and rivers in sustainable communities. There has been a great deal of media coverage about flood risk, sustainable drainage and water quality. Most people agree that the problems and opportunities of living close to rivers cannot generally be dealt with by 'hard' engineering solutions alone, or even by experts alone. Attempts to manage river flows by straightening and reinforcing watercourses, for example, have taken away much of their amenity and conservation interest and have in some cases exacerbated flooding. Now, many rivers are being restored to something like their natural condition, often as part of attempts to create a new image for areas that have been damaged by industry. Sustainable approaches to water basin planning require negotiation between a range of professionals, as well as involving local communities in alternative future options. However, rivers are part of large and complex systems, which are not easily understood by non-experts. Also, people have become less aware of rivers, as their reliance on them for a variety of functions such as transport has declined. Consequently, it may be difficult to engage a diverse public in dialogues about the long-term sustainable development of rivers. Our research looked at ways of building on current experience of participation in river basin planning.