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A crack in the Swedish welfare façade? A review of assessing social impacts in transport infrastructure planning

Antonson, Hans LU and Levin, Lena (2018) In Progress in Planning
Abstract
A comparison of social impact categorisation in strategic planning across European Union Member States shows that Sweden neither categorises nor breaks down categories of social impact in areas such as transport infrastructure development. This is surprising because Sweden is known as a country concerned about social issues and having a high standard of welfare. This article accordingly studies how social issues are handled during transport infrastructure planning. An analysis of different source materials will answer four research questions: 1) To what extent are social impacts integrated into environmental impact assessment (EIA) reports? 2) Are social impacts sufficiently integrated and/or does this treatment simply amount to ‘good... (More)
A comparison of social impact categorisation in strategic planning across European Union Member States shows that Sweden neither categorises nor breaks down categories of social impact in areas such as transport infrastructure development. This is surprising because Sweden is known as a country concerned about social issues and having a high standard of welfare. This article accordingly studies how social issues are handled during transport infrastructure planning. An analysis of different source materials will answer four research questions: 1) To what extent are social impacts integrated into environmental impact assessment (EIA) reports? 2) Are social impacts sufficiently integrated and/or does this treatment simply amount to ‘good practice’? 3) Can any trend be detected over time in terms of addressing social issues in impact assessments? 4) What key measures could increase the influence of social impact issues on transport infrastructure planning practice? The study involved a content analysis of six EIA handbooks and EIA statements (EISs) for 18 large transport infrastructure projects. The concepts searched for in these documents largely apply to issues of vulnerability, health, social problems, perceived safety, and alienation. Our data were interpreted through the theoretical lens of institutional interplay. We found that though social aspects are not new considerations in EIA research, they are included in only a small proportion of the 18 Swedish EISs, mostly in connection with health and accessibility. We believe that this does not suffice. We also found that the more recent documents allotted less space to social issues. It is unlikely that most individuals in the organisations that order EISs, or the consultancies that write them, are unaware of the broader interpretation of ‘human beings’ which includes social aspects. Based on increasing interest in social issues in planning and due to the lack of national goals and guidelines in this area, some municipalities and consultants have begun to create their own methods of measuring and assessing social impacts. This has resulted in multiple local-level practitioners who want to develop social issues within impact assessment, and possibly also to introduce a social impact assessment framework, but with no management or coordination among them. The conclusion is that in the absence of a government initiative to clarify how social impacts can be addressed in transport infrastructure planning, there is a need for an external network for organisations involved in transport infrastructure EISs. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
epub
subject
keywords
Environmental impact assessment (EIA), Environmental impact statement (EIS), Practice, Social impact assessment (SIA), Sustainability, Transport infrastructure planning
in
Progress in Planning
publisher
Elsevier Ltd
external identifiers
  • scopus:85058710730
ISSN
0305-9006
DOI
10.1016/j.progress.2018.11.001
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
f2df2068-2572-4009-b282-fc9803b0ee2f
date added to LUP
2018-12-21 15:46:31
date last changed
2019-02-20 11:40:49
@article{f2df2068-2572-4009-b282-fc9803b0ee2f,
  abstract     = {A comparison of social impact categorisation in strategic planning across European Union Member States shows that Sweden neither categorises nor breaks down categories of social impact in areas such as transport infrastructure development. This is surprising because Sweden is known as a country concerned about social issues and having a high standard of welfare. This article accordingly studies how social issues are handled during transport infrastructure planning. An analysis of different source materials will answer four research questions: 1) To what extent are social impacts integrated into environmental impact assessment (EIA) reports? 2) Are social impacts sufficiently integrated and/or does this treatment simply amount to ‘good practice’? 3) Can any trend be detected over time in terms of addressing social issues in impact assessments? 4) What key measures could increase the influence of social impact issues on transport infrastructure planning practice? The study involved a content analysis of six EIA handbooks and EIA statements (EISs) for 18 large transport infrastructure projects. The concepts searched for in these documents largely apply to issues of vulnerability, health, social problems, perceived safety, and alienation. Our data were interpreted through the theoretical lens of institutional interplay. We found that though social aspects are not new considerations in EIA research, they are included in only a small proportion of the 18 Swedish EISs, mostly in connection with health and accessibility. We believe that this does not suffice. We also found that the more recent documents allotted less space to social issues. It is unlikely that most individuals in the organisations that order EISs, or the consultancies that write them, are unaware of the broader interpretation of ‘human beings’ which includes social aspects. Based on increasing interest in social issues in planning and due to the lack of national goals and guidelines in this area, some municipalities and consultants have begun to create their own methods of measuring and assessing social impacts. This has resulted in multiple local-level practitioners who want to develop social issues within impact assessment, and possibly also to introduce a social impact assessment framework, but with no management or coordination among them. The conclusion is that in the absence of a government initiative to clarify how social impacts can be addressed in transport infrastructure planning, there is a need for an external network for organisations involved in transport infrastructure EISs.},
  author       = {Antonson, Hans and Levin, Lena},
  issn         = {0305-9006},
  keyword      = {Environmental impact assessment (EIA),Environmental impact statement (EIS),Practice,Social impact assessment (SIA),Sustainability,Transport infrastructure planning},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {12},
  publisher    = {Elsevier Ltd},
  series       = {Progress in Planning},
  title        = {A crack in the Swedish welfare façade? A review of assessing social impacts in transport infrastructure planning},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.progress.2018.11.001},
  year         = {2018},
}