In response to recent policy initiatives and UK and European legislation there is increasing focus on alternative methodologies and procedures to encourage public participation in environmental planning. This paper is concerned with outlining those methodologies that involve the use of IT methods in enabling a possible consensus to be reached between participatory groups on decisions that may effect their local environment. Specifically, we focus on integrated approaches that involve the use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) techniques in facilitating public participation using the case study of the planning of wind farms. The introduction of renewable energy technologies can be a particularly contentious issue in some areas of the UK and we draw on a review of the use of such software tools in order to highlight their application within a decision support system framework. One area where there has been less input from potentially affected local communities or stakeholders relates to the use of computer-generated visualisations in the environmental impact assessment (EIA) process. We describe future research challenges facing those charged with encouraging participation in the siting of such facilities before re-iterating the policy relevance of this research given the UK governments’ stated commitment to the incorporation of public input into the decision-making process.
- Public participation techniques
- Geographical Information Systems (GIS)
- Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA)
- Renewable energy
- wind farm planning