Stakeholder engagement in marine spatial planning

  • Heather Ritchie

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy

    Abstract

    This thesis explores the issue of stakeholder engagement in Marine Spatial Planning (MSP). The formal introduction of spatial planning in the marine environment, through the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 makes for an interesting and unique context for considering a central aspect of spatial planning, stakeholder engagement. MSP is a new arena for spatial planning and faces many different challenges, particularly in the context of property rights and ownership. Whilst gaining momentum in the fields of marine science and ecology, research from the social sciences on MSP is still developing, and this thesis will develop a better understanding of the discourses of stakeholder engagement in MSP. Based on a case study of the Irish Sea, the thesis develops an alternative theoretical direction for considering stakeholder engagement and highlights the importance of incorporating stakeholders' perspectives in creating a robust and realistic MSP process.

    The research aims to find how best to incorporate stakeholder perspectives into the MSP Process. In order to achieve this aim, a review of theoretical literature around stakeholder engagement in Terrestrial Spatial Planning (TSP) and MSP is firstly carried out. This is followed by a policy critique, which is conducted by using Rhetorical Analysis to uncover the discourses of engagement that existed within Government's MSP policy documents. This tool illustrates how Government have articulated their aims and approach to stakeholder engagement in MSP. In order to gather key stakeholder perspectives across a wide spectrum of participants (within the case study area of the Irish Sea Region), Q Methodology is employed as a tool that identifies dominant discourses among stakeholders. By using the evidence built up from the literature review, the policy critique and the stakeholder discourses it was then possible to explore new insights and new perspectives that are offered from research for stakeholder engagement in MSP.

    The thesis finds that Government's discourse of stakeholder engagement in MSP is informed by TSP's theoretical framework of Collaborative Planning. Based on five discourses that arise from the Q methodology, we see the complexity of stakeholders' views expressed in considering MSP and it is suggested that the proposed Collaborative model of stakeholder engagement can be improved. Using the five discourses it is put forward that stakeholder engagement in MSP could be much better addressed by incorporating those stakeholders' perspectives to better inform and develop MSP, as it is noted that stakeholders have alternative ambitions and agenda's in engaging in MSP, and these do not necessarily align with those of Government. It is suggested that the adoption of an agonistic perspective, will allow for a much more realistic and productive system of stakeholder engagement for MSP. A conceptualisation is drawn up at the end of the thesis highlighting how an agonistic approach to engagement may be mobilised through the consideration of a 'sea interest'. The 'sea interest' is developed as an objective of MSP as a way of creating a system of MSP that truly works for the sea and not the Government Administration.
    Date of AwardJul 2011
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Queen's University Belfast
    SupervisorGeraint Ellis (Supervisor)

    Cite this

    Stakeholder engagement in marine spatial planning
    Ritchie, H. (Author). Jul 2011

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy