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The role of civil society in mega-transport project decision-making: the case of the proposed high speed rail connection, High Speed Two (HS2)

Durrant, DW; (2016) The role of civil society in mega-transport project decision-making: the case of the proposed high speed rail connection, High Speed Two (HS2). Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis asks; how are megaprojects legitimated, with civil society seen as a source of the legitimacy that state and market institutions often lack. Civil society is conceived as a political realm in which decisions are challenged and in which there is also public deliberation of the issues decisions generate. With civil society organisations (CSOs) increasingly seen by policy-makers as a means of delivering public goods the role of civil society is changing. In order to reflect this change a broader concept of civil society is developed within this thesis. This, in turn, contributes to the megaproject literature as the participation of civil society is increasingly seen as a prerequisite for more open forms of decision-making. The planning and appraisal of High Speed Two, a proposed UK high speed rail connection, provides a case study in which the roles played by CSOs are interpreted using ethnography, based upon observations conducted within the ‘public’ formed of CSOs responding to the proposals, and discourse analysis of key policy documents. The history of the project and the governing principles of speed, of operation and implementation, are identified in the framing of the policy discourse as are the ways in which organisations challenging these principles develop alternative proposals. The findings are that the approach to planning and appraisal has, in this case, remained largely closed to civil society. The practices of the delivery bodies, governed by market principles and exhibiting undue haste to implement the project, have generated considerable mistrust and, for many, delegitimised the process and the institutions delivering it. This failure of public bodies suggests a failure to appreciate the importance of CSOs in establishing appropriate institutional frameworks for megaproject governance. These are required if decisions of this type are to be seen to reflect broad public rather than narrow private interests.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: The role of civil society in mega-transport project decision-making: the case of the proposed high speed rail connection, High Speed Two (HS2)
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > The Bartlett School of Planning
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1493012
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