Appendix 3. The Bewitching of the Scottish Water Bill.
Key learning events and processes in the “bewitching” of the Scottish Water Bill (SWB) included:
the field trip to Insh Marsh. “The Committee
members said that was a really useful research experience. They actually
said that, and many of them made reference to it at either Stage 2 or at
Stage 3, and the fact that we did, and that they really saw it for themselves and
realizing that the wetlands really matter. Trying to sell to politicians that
wetlands really matter was like a nightmare, but actually in the end, them
seeing this huge sponge and [that] Aviemore will be washed away
without it, really made such a difference. In amending the bill, they really
felt that they could identify what this meant, and I think that’s probably
why the wetlands stuff got through” (Interview SPC7).
There is clearly a strong relationship between the concept of relational
capital and what is experienced as trust. It was suggested that “ ... if people are in the business of establishing trust and having as leisurely [a] debate as they can, it’s easier to do in the devolved
situation than it ever was when any legislation like this would have had to have
gone through Westminster, and I think, because of the effect of devolution, the civil servants’ attitudes have had to change” (Interview SPC3).
From the NGO perspective, the field trip “ ... almost worked too
well. The civil servants have been clamoring to go on a similar trip [to another site in relation to another issue], so the planning and the water guys just went up last week, a coach load of Scottish Executive Officials from two different buildings, and planning and water people from within Link, and agriculture people from within Link as well.” Importantly, the success of the initial experiential event has left a praxis legacy.
- introducing external perspectives. Events were held just
before the SWB was reconsidered and before the summer and in June of 2002.
These were considered “ ... useful as well, because it opened up other
perspectives that they had not thought of, with some really quite good contributions from Denmark, but also on the insurance aspect for flooding and that really hit home with the MSPs [members of the Scottish Parliament], but again a lot of them said to me afterwards, ‘That was a very useful and interesting event,’ and it
got them thinking about the bill” (Interview SPC8).
- modeling, through action, the language they were using. The NGO staff recognized the need to get people involved early and to practice what they were preaching. Through this process, the perspective
of civil servants changed from thinking along the lines of, “Oh, this is the environmentalist saying, ‘Participation for participation’s sake,’ to thinking, ‘there was a real learning process went on there’” (Interview SPC7). It was more than providing information; the experiential nature of engaging
stakeholders enabled them to experience the issues that were at stake.
- systems thinking. Systems thinking was part of their repertoire, although it is unclear to what extent thinking and acting systemically was done consciously. “Link as a group was able to say, ‘We need to be a bit more creative about how we’re thinking about dealing with floods and whatever,’ other than building masses of concrete. We think this is a system and that wetlands are part of this system, and we have to build
them into that. The systems are fascinating, actually. Dealing with the MSPs,
real systems thinking, getting them thinking ...” (Interview SPC7).