Uncovering the Environment

Two academics in the School of Social Sciences have been awarded a major grant to study public access to environmental information.  The £350,000 award from the ESRC to Prof. Colin Reid (Law) and Dr. Jonathan Mendel (Geography) will allow them to examine how laws enabling the public to obtain information are being used and whether they are making a difference to environmental governance. 

The law has given people the right to require public authorities to release information about the environment since the early 1990s, but there have been no studies of how far the aims of greater transparency, wider public participation and better environmental regulation are being achieved.   Working with the Scottish Information Commissioner, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and Scottish Natural Heritage the project will examine what sort of information is being sought, by what sort of people, and how it is being used.  It will also study how such access affects how public bodies handle and present information, how this can be improved for the benefit of both themselves and the public and how far the information provided in this way is used to influence policies and decisions on environmental regulation.