Centre for Rural Economy


Environmental Action and the Policy Process: The Case of CPRE

This project was concerned with environmental policy making and the environmental policy process.

The project aimed to investigate the ways in which non-governmental organisations contribute to policy at both the national (UK) level and at local levels and the way that policy making might be improved by enhanced forms of participation. Because the CPRE is involved in policy formulation in local, regional and national policy arenas, and because it is concerned with both specific policy sectors and general environmental policy, it provided an ideal case study of the relationship between government agencies and non-governmental organisations. The project thus used the CPRE as an example of a non-governmental organisation that is active in shaping policy at the various tiers of government and aimed to investigate how the CPRE enters into the policy process. Of particular interest are the relationships between professional, full-time CPRE officers and voluntary activists and between CPRE headquarters and local branches.

The project was divided into two main parts: (i) UK national level work, which consisted of interviews with full-time CPRE headquarters staff and policy makers; (ii) local level work, which examined how voluntary activists shape local planning and environmental policies.

(i) UK national level work. This part of the research involved interviews with full-time CPRE staff and the civil servants with whom they met regularly. It involved a comparison of various government directorates and examined government/CPRE relations both within and across policy sectors
(ii) Local level work. This part of the research was conducted in three contrasting localities: Devon, Hertfordshire, and Northumberland. These three locations were chosen as it was expected that they would exhibit different types of local organisation. The research examined why people became involved in the CPRE, the types of issues that were of concern to them, and the ways that they sought to influence local policy. Much of the research work consisted of interviews with key local activists, plus the local policy makers with whom they were most frequently involved. A series of focus groups with key personnel was also held.

By considering the work of the CPRE in the three contrasting study areas a greater understanding was reached of:

In short, the project sought to show