ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability
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Lancashire County, United Kingdom
Lancashire County, located in the north-west of England, adjacent to the Irish Sea, is one of the most populous and urbanized counties in England. Lancashire's towns are expanding and many are faced with substantial urban dereliction, high energy use and increasing household waste.

Lancashire County Council comprises ninety-nine locally-elected members. It forms part of a local government structure that provides services in the areas of education, social services, fire and public protection, waste disposal, strategic highways and land-use planning. There are fourteen district councils that work with the county in many service areas.

Before the LA 21 process began, various sectors had worked together on single environmental issues-the most significant concerned the quality of Lancashire's beaches and coastal waters. In 1989, Lancashire County Council commissioned research into the water authority's proposals. A new scheme for sewage disposal was later devised by a consensus process through the Fylde Coast Forum involving county and district councils, the Water Company, regulatory bodies and interest groups.

The following description covers the LA 21 policy-making process, including the Green Audit-A State of the Environment Report, the Lancashire Environmental Action Programme, and in response to the Rio Earth Summit, a widened process that encompasses the sustainability agenda beginning with the Green Audit 2-A Sustainability Report.

Participants and Procedures
All three political groups on the county council supported the MCP initiative. A new Environment Policy Unit was established within the County Planning Department comprising planning professionals and environmental scientists. The chief executive/clerk and the county planning officer were directly responsible for establishing working arrangements and for preparing the state-of-the-environment report.

The terms of reference for the Lancashire Environment Forum (the partnership group) determined the initial objectives of the LA 21 process and still remain good. The agenda of the forum has been expanded from the original focus on environmental concerns to reflect the wider agenda of sustainability as defined in Agenda 21 (UNCED, 1992).

The Lancashire Environment Forum was formed in 1989 to oversee the preparation of Green Audit-A State of the Environment Report and the subsequent action programme. Stakeholders could be from any organization with an interest in Lancashire's environment. Additional efforts were made to bring in traditionally under-represented groups such as women, ethnic minorities and young people. The shift toward the wider sustainability agenda and the forthcoming action-planning phase is seen as the most significant point in attracting a broader membership.

In 1989, Lancashire County Council initiated discussions with stakeholders from all sectors of the community and with organizations with interests in Lancashire's environment. A partnership was developed to coordinate and cooperate on environmental action. The Lancashire Environment Forum guides the partnership aspects of the LA 21. The forum functioned as a multi-sectoral roundtable and used several different methods and tools during the planning process including formal meetings, conferences, presentations, workshops and brainstorming sessions. The municipality played a leading role in bringing together, coordinating, servicing and supporting the stakeholder group.

Resources were provided by the county council to support and service the initiative. The forum also established Specialist Working Groups (SWGs) with a maximum of twenty participants which dealt with particular issues and topics. Over 100 representatives of stakeholder groups were involved in SWGs in the action planning stage.

The full Lancashire Environment Forum has met twelve times since 1989. The Environment Forum and the Anti-Poverty Forum are both chaired by the deputy leader of the county council. This helps to cement the relationship between the council and the external forums, and links Lancashire's work on anti-poverty and environmental sustainability as promoted by Agenda 21.

The municipality and members of the forum formally adopted the Lancashire Environmental Action Programme (LEAP) in March 1993. The municipality, along with other member organizations, were responsible for implementing sections of the proposals.

Community-Based Issue Analysis
Community consultation on identified issues was not carried out until after the publication of Green Audit-A State of the Environment Report. The strategic objective was to agree on a set of concerns which could be dealt with by the Lancashire Environmental Action Programme (LEAP). The Environment Unit analyzed all information contained in the Green Audit using questionnaires. The results of this exercise revealed the concerns to be:

1. water, air and waste;

2. transport, wildlife and agriculture;

3. open space, energy, landscape and townscape; and

4. noise.

Additionally, another sixty-eight particular issues were identified for priority action. This helped establish the topic areas for the SWGs.

Issue Assessment
Issue assessment and analysis have been carried out twice to date in the LA 21 process. They have yielded two reports:

1. Green Audit 1-A State of the Environment Report for Lancashire (1991)

2. Green Audit 2-A Sustainability Report for Lancashire (1997)

Action Planning
Following the publication of Green Audit 1, the forum considered how to respond to the issues raised and develop an action plan. They created four SWGs which were charged with drafting detailed recommendations for the Environmental Action Programme on:

1. air, energy, transport and noise;

2. water, waste and land agriculture;

3. wildlife, landscape, townscape and open space; and

4. education and public awareness.

After ten months of deliberation by the SWGs, more than 200 proposals were brought forward. These were condensed and arranged under nine headings that reflected the broad themes emerging from the discussions and the proposals' goals.

Implementation and Monitoring
The first implementation objectives of the Environmental Action Programme were to publicize its existence and contents, and to involve as many people as possible to help implement the proposals. The strategy for publicizing LEAP consisted of several elements. LEAP was launched at the end of March 1993, when forum organizations formally endorsed their commitment to the document.

Evaluation and Feedback
The county council, on behalf of the Lancashire Environment Forum, commissioned the first report on the implementation of LEAP in April 1994. After a comprehensive survey of all forum partners a draft version was presented to the forum at its June 1995 meeting. The report was to be used to monitor implementation, and to feed into a comprehensive review of LEAP scheduled to take place in 1998.

Outcomes of the MCP
The LA 21 process in Lancashire has brought beneficial results at each stage. First, the establishment of the partnership has itself brought benefits. For the first time in the county, over eighty organizations have come together to share a common vision and commitment to a comprehensive programme of environmental issue analysis and action. Despite having no model to follow, the Lancashire Environment Forum was strengthened by the achievement of goals and recognition for these achievements.

The process provided benefits for the county council that led the initiative. It allowed the council to work closely with other sectors to develop a consensus on the issues and actions required. The outputs of the process have provided valuable tools for internal purposes.

The second outcome was Green Audit 1-A State of the Environment Report. This provided a comprehensive picture of the environmental assets and issues facing the county in a format available to all Lancastrians. It has provided a valuable base of information for developing actions, collectively and individually. The document has raised awareness among the public, schools, and organizations at the local level. It has provided a model for other municipalities and demonstrated to regional, national and international audiences the value of partnership building at the local level.

The process of preparing the action plan (LEAP) provided positive results in terms of the relations formed and the facilitation of mutual understanding. The partnership theme, central to LEAP, has been taken forward by forum members in their approach to environmental projects and the LA 21 process developed at the local district council and community levels. There have also been a number of specific outcomes in terms of LEAP-related projects.

Lancashire LA 21 Special Projects
1. Gulu-Lancashire LA 21 Link

2. Sustainable Land-use and Transportation Strategy

3. Charter for Sustainable Development

4. Network of centers of environmental excellence

5. "Going for Green" Sustainable Communities project

6. Lancashire Environmental Information System (computerized)

The Green Audit 2 Sustainability Report is the latest product of the process. This was launched on April 8, 1997, at a special seminar involving a wide range of groups. It will form the basis for an update of the action plan to provide a comprehensive strategic "Local Agenda 21 for Lancashire" encompassing environmental, social and economic dimensions.

Lessons Learned from the LA 21 Planning Process
  • Setting clear aims and objectives, and having an agreed programme of activities is conducive to success.
  • The momentum and interest of partners must be maintained, and tangible outputs-reports and the action programme-which can be used by individuals, groups and organizations for raising awareness, policy and project appraisal, attracting funding and action planning should be developed.
  • Leadership and coordination by the county council are important elements in driving the process forward, however if the process is too tightly controlled by the county council, residents may find it difficult and intimidating to influence the agenda and to express their views freely.
  • The shift from the environment to sustainable development was resisted by some in Lancashire. Resistance to sustainable development can be overcome through the process of developing indicators, and the identification of their inter-relationships with social and economic issues.
  • Community consultation is most effective when more than one method of public outreach is employed.