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Achieving environmental justiceA cross-national analysis$
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Karen Bell

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781447305941

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447305941.001.0001

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‘Regulation means bad’

‘Regulation means bad’

environmental justice in the United Kingdom

(p.97) SIX ‘Regulation means bad’
Achieving environmental justice

Karen Bell

Policy Press

Environmental justice, as a concept, emerged in the UK in the late 1990s, mainly via the academic community, which became interested in the interrelationships between geographical space and conceptions of equity and justice. Environmental Justice has also, at times, been debated by government and by policy makers. Overall, a far broader environmental justice agenda has emerged in the UK than in the US with regard to the range of issues, especially in that there is a greater emphasis on access to environmental ‘goods’ and fairness in procedural matters. There is also a wider focus in terms of social dimensions, which has included age, gender, disability and class, with race and ethnicity playing a relatively minor role compared to that in the US. Where race has been discussed, it is usually in relation to access to the countryside and a lack of inclusion of black and minority ethnic people in the UK environmental movement. The chapter outlines policy and practice in relation to Environmental Justice in the UK and find that the country achieves a fairly poor level of environmental justice. Though there is a generally adequate level of the basic services that we expect to find in a developed country, such as improved drinking water, there are problems in terms of high resource use and production of waste; unhealthy levels of air pollution; and exposure to ubiquitous toxic chemicals. Distributive injustice is built on the UK’s high levels of income inequality and enduring racism. Clean air, transport, energy and safe living environments are not universally available and these environmental inequalities appear to link with socio-spatial disparities in health. Furthermore, environmental policy does not always take into account social effects.

Keywords:   United Kingdom, Environment Agency, Sustainable Development Commission, Neighbourhood Renewal, EU Waste Directive, fuel poverty, Public Sector Equality Duty, Defra, social class

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