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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Environmental planning and decision making for large-scale power projects Le Marquand, David G.

Abstract

This study focuses on the institutional problems involved in planning for large-scale energy and resource projects in B.C. Fundamental to planning for these projects is the resolution of the tension between economic growth and environmental quality. Concern is expressed that, to date, planning has stressed economic values at the expense of environmental values held in society. A more equitable planning structure is needed whereby interested groups in society may present informed views to the planners and decision-makers to help them achieve solutions that more nearly represent the public interest. To reach a solution that reflects the public interest an advocacy approach to planning is suggested in Chapter Two. This approach stresses interest group participation in the "planning process" to conduct planning that meets public expectations. In order that environmental interests are incorporated into the planning and decision-making for major power and resource projects, an environmental review agency is proposed. This agency would have the power to conduct is own investigations into issues that might affect the environment and advocate its findings in the debate over the proposed Projects. To test the suitability in British Columbia of the advocacy approach a number of criteria are developed, The criteria reflect some basic democratic values held in our society and the problems associated with institutional design. The criteria include public participation and representation, information generation, efficiency, equality, professional humility, natural justice, liberty and political leadership. The characteristics of B.C.'s political milieu are examined in Chapter Three to see what problems the implementation of the advocacy approach for environmental and resource planning might face in the province. Three characteristics of the political milieu are seen as possible constraints on the effective implementation of a review agency - materialist values held in the province, lack of strong interest groups and the dependence on resource extraction for economic prosperity. A case study of the planning and decision-making for the Bennett Dam on the Peace River, presented in Chapter Four, outlines the inadequacy of the planning process. Even though there have been some changes in planning procedures since the initial planning for the Peace project, two principal deficiencies remain - there is virtually no scope for public involvement in the planning process and the information produced is too highly technical to make for effective public participation. As a consequence major energy and resource planning will likely produce results that favour energy and development interests.

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