HC Deb 08 July 2002 vol 388 cc692-3W
Malcolm Bruce

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research has been conducted(a) by and (b) for (i) her Department, (ii) the Environment Agency and (iii) other Government bodies in relation to human behaviour and the environment; and if she will make a statement. [64739]

Mr. Meacher

DEFRA undertakes and commissions a large volume of research every year, some of which deals with issues of human behaviour and the environment. At any one time the Department is funding around 1500 research projects supporting around forty individual policy subject areas. Details of all ongoing DEFRA research projects and research results can now be found on the Department's searchable website at: http://www.defra.gov.uldresearch/default.htm. For example, the Domestic Noise Complaints Study published in 1999 can be found on the site. The results of the recent Noise Attitudes Survey (which was published by DEFRA on May 20 2002) will also be available on the site shortly.

In addition, the Department sponsors the Sustainable Development Research Network (website: http://www.sd-research.org.uk/), which aims to identify and promote research which integrates environmental, social and economic objectives.

The Environment Agency has completed numerous research projects on various aspects of human behaviour and the environment. A main focus of research to date has been to understand values and perceptions of the environmental business of the Agency, for example in relation to industry, nuclear waste management and water management. The specific themes covered by the research are: public participation and involvement: a major project on Evaluating Methods for Public Participation has recently been completed; the Agency is also participating in a European research project on Enhancing Transparency and Public Participation in Nuclear Waste Management. A number of smaller projects have looked at issues such as information provision and public participation in specific decision-making contexts. policy advocacy processes: a three-year project is being developed which looks at policy advocacy in different areas, such as waste. partnership: as well as a number of local projects, a national project is being developed to equip staff to work better in partnerships with other stakeholders. risk communication: research has explored public perceptions of environmental risks and approaches to risk communication. particularly in relation to risks related to industrial pollution and flooding; the Agency also participated in a major project with other government departments and agencies looking at the Social Amplification of Risk. social impacts: a number of projects focusing on the impacts of flooding, including health impacts and impacts on vulnerable groups, are due to be completed this year; understanding social perspectives on the environmental issues that concern the Agency: the perspectives of different stakeholders were explored in a recent project on Industrial Pollution Communication; social aspects of sustainable development: two projects on integrated appraisal (one on Appraisal Methods and one looking at integrated appraisal in the context of the Water Framework Directive) have contributed to knowledge in this sphere.

More information on some of these findings are available at "www.webookshop.com/ea/rdreport"

Additionally, the Agency has recently carried out a research study into people's behaviours and attitudes to household waste. This research showed that people would recycle more of their rubbish if it were made easier to do so by local councils. [Almost 9 out of 10 people claim that they would be likely to separate rubbish for recycling if the council provided appropriate containers]. Results were published in May this year and are available at "www.environment-agency.gov.uk/subect/waste/232021/ 239537/296229"

DEFRA does not collect or hold data on research undertaken or commissioned by other Government Departments on this issue.

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