Environmental management decision-making : the South Durban Basin Multi-Point Plan.
The South Durban Basin (SDB) is known as an area of conflict due to a juxtaposition of industrial and residential land uses as a result of past political and environmental injustices. Over the years residents of the SDB have protested against the industrial developments and ensuing pollution in the area especially the air pollution emitted from major refineries and other businesses. This civil action brought attention to the serious air quality health concerns in the area which eventually led to the formation of a Multi-Point Plan (MPP) in 2000. The MPP was a scientifically based air pollution monitoring network of the SDB established by government in collaboration with community and industry representatives to address the air pollution issues of the area. The MPP was one of the first of its kind in South Africa and the outcome of this process fed into the most recent Air Quality Management Act 39 of 2004 which in turn led has led to an improvement of air quality in the SDB. The aim of this thesis is to analyse the SDB MPP as a form of deliberative governance as the MPP had aimed to include and deliberate effectively with all stakeholders in the decision-making policy processes of the plan. Therefore, using a theoretical framework on deliberative governance in the network society in environmental decision-making, the true deliberative nature of the MPP can be assessed. Four objectives are used to analyse the MPP where the first is to explain the goals and structure of the MPP and the second to describe the decision making processes involved. The third objective is to examine the degree of deliberation that took place in the processes of the MPP and the fourth objective is to analyse the role of science in the MPP. The outcome of this study shows that while stakeholders were included, the NGO and community stakeholders felt that they were not fully involved and collaborated with, in the decision-making process of the MPP. The results showed that the deliberative processes of the MPP were not democratically deliberative. Therefore the MPP proved to be a weak form of deliberative governance.