Investigation into a future policy landscape to achieve sustainability in the Scottish coastal region

  • John Michael Bainbridge

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (awarded by OU/Aberdeen)


achievement of a sustainable future for Scotland’s coastal communities is subject to, and dependent upon, a complex policy landscape of stakeholders and policy documents within which resource and information is transferred where relationships and dependencies, are linked to the power and influence of policy actors and documents. Understanding the dynamics of the policy network is critical for effective stakeholder engagement. This study investigated four policy themes and explored their impact and relevance on government and civil society efforts for Scottish coastal community sustainability. This was informed by a review of the marine and coastal estate, policy and planning in addition to sustainable economics, behaviour, innovation and governance. The four policy themes of low carbon economy, marine renewable energy, zero waste and sustainability were subject to a literature reviews and to policy network analysis using a new method developed here called Rapid Policy Network Analysis. This method provides a broadly applicable, relatively simple, replicable mechanism, with cost to its application for non-policy specialists to understand those issues which are most pertinent to their objectives. The research considered established theories and models for achieving sustainable equilibrium in complex systems including common pool resources and recent initiatives in developing sustainable communities. A working hypothesis for a future policy framework supporting sustainable development in the Scottish coastal region was proposed and tested using the results of the policy network analysis and literature review based on specific questions. Across all policy themes the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009, the Electricity Act 1989, the Environmental Protection Act 1990, the Second National Planning Framework (NPF2), the UK and Scottish Governments and Scottish Local Authorities were amongst the most important and influential. The study shows that there continues to be a gap between the national development of sustainability policy and the authority required at the coastal scale.
Date of Award29 Sept 2014
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Edinburgh
SupervisorTavis Potts (Supervisor), Tim O'Higgins (Supervisor) & Cristina Martinez-Fernandez (Supervisor)

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