Download a pdf version of this case study: Natural England case study [pdf document, 271KB - opens in a new tab/window]
One of Natural England's key strategic outcomes is 'to ensure a secure environmental future through taking decisions which collectively secure the future of the natural environment'. When the Marine and Coastal Access Act reached royal assent in 2009, it was clear that considering the concerns of local stakeholders would be key to fulfilling the Act's requirement that Natural England secure a trail for recreation and amenity around the entire coast of England.
Dialogue by Design was contracted by Natural England to manage, collate and analyse the consultation on the Coastal Access Scheme. The Scheme describes the principles that will be deployed to discharge the coastal access duty outlined in the act. From the information and opinions gathered from the consultation Dialogue by Design were also required to produce a consultation report for submission to the Secretary of State.
Dialogue by Design created a dedicated consultation website to allow respondents to submit their views. The website was designed to be easy to use and enable respondents to understand the purpose and ground rules for participating in the consultation, and how comments would be used. Respondents were able to easily navigate through the consultation document chapter by chapter and respond to one or more of the corresponding questions. The system also enabled respondents to return to the consultation website to print or amend their submissions at any time. People and organisations that were unable or preferred not to participate online were given the option to request paper forms which replicated the questions on the website and could be submitted via email or post.
All submissions were read and collated under appropriate headings under the sections of the Scheme to which they referred. The collation was undertaken using Dialogue by Design's unique analysis system which allows responses to be rapidly collated by the team. A consultation report was then produced which summarised participants' submissions as objectively as possible.
Our unique approach resulted in 280 people registering, and 230 submitting comments on the online consultation web pages.
Two versions of the consultation report were produced:
The consultation summary report and final Coastal Access Scheme were submitted to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in March 2010.
"Overall I was very encouraged by the Natural England approach and opportunities for consultation. Clearly much thought has been put into the process and this came across well."
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