Keywords: procedural justice, stakeholder participation, water quality planning, Tar-Pamlico River, environmental conflict resolution, negotiated rule-making
Public participation in environmental decisions: stakeholders, authorities and procedural justice
We analysed a stakeholder participation process undertaken by the North Carolina Division of Water Quality to see if the process satisfied elements of procedural justice: representation of relevant parties, voice, sound technical basis, fair treatment by authorities and absence of bias. The rushed timeframe for the process compromised several elements of procedural justice. Representation suffered from the absence of pre-process contact with potential participants. Too frequent meetings prevented stakeholders from digesting complex technical information on water quality impacts of excess nutrients. The Division of Water Quality dominated the function of the stakeholder groups by playing multiple roles, including convening meetings, providing technical information, drafting documents, and serving as liaison to the state legislature. Stakeholders acknowledged that the division's strong role was probably essential to making progress in such a short timeframe but worried that the result was biased in favour of division views.