Gearing-up governance for sustainable development: Patterns of policy appraisal in UK central government

Duncan Russel, Andrew Jordan

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46 Citations (Scopus)


The UK is reportedly an international leader in the application of environmental policy appraisal (EPA). From the late 1980s until 2004, UK central government sought to produce ex ante assessments of the potential environmental impacts of different policy options. Critics maintain that EPA had a very limited impact on policy-making activities in Whitehall departments. However, the empirical basis for these claims is surprisingly thin. This paper seeks to better understand what facilitated or retarded EPA by looking at its use in Whitehall, with the aim being to draw lessons for the UK's new and more integrated appraisal regime, as well as similar systems in the European Union. The paper finds that the implementation of EPA was both weak and highly sectorised, and that there is an underlying resistance to policy appraisal per se in Whitehall. These weaknesses urgently need to be addressed otherwise new systems of integrated appraisal will not deliver what is expected of them.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Environmental Planning and Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2007

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