Lowe P D, 1977, "Amenity and equity: a review of local environmental pressure groups in Britain" Environment and Planning A 9(1) 35 – 58
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Amenity and equity: a review of local environmental pressure groups in Britain
P D Lowe
Received 28 September 1976
Abstract. The paper discusses the effect, on the distribution of environmental quality and access to facilities, of the growth in Britain of political activity and influence of locality-based, area-oriented groups—the amenity, civic and preservation societies, residents' and tenants' associations, and community action groups—referred to as local environmental pressure groups. After reviewing the growth of organized interest in local environmental issues, one prominent type of local group, amenity societies, is considered in detail, including typical styles of action, resources, ethos, and social composition. It is suggested that the evident effectiveness of many amenity societies may preclude other environmental groups with different social compositions from influencing official planning policies. With growing emphasis on public participation in statutory planning, serious problems of the equity of distribution of amenity and accessibility arise because certain areas and sections of society are not organized to protect their interests in the environment; certain sections of the community lack the available resources to sustain effective pressure group activity; and some local political cultures are unreceptive to group activity. The problems of political equity, the representativeness of local environmental groups, variations in potential political efficacy between existing groups, and the failure of certain interests to achieve political expression are each considered in detail.
It is concluded that the medium of political organization will magnify the differences and inequalities of the social structure, and that the activities of local environmental pressure groups will tend to accentuate existing disparities between the favoured environments of the powerful and wealthy and the degraded environments of the deprived.
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