Publication - Consultation analysis

Developing an environment strategy for Scotland: analysis of responses to online discussion

Published: 16 Feb 2019
Environment and Forestry Directorate
Part of:
Environment and climate change

Independent analysis of responses to our June to August 2018 online discussion that sought views to help inform the development of an Environment Strategy for Scotland.

66 page PDF

1.4 MB

66 page PDF

1.4 MB

Developing an environment strategy for Scotland: analysis of responses to online discussion

66 page PDF

1.4 MB


1.1 In June 2018, The Scottish Government launched an eight-week national online discussion inviting feedback on a discussion paper on ‘Developing an Environment Strategy for Scotland’[3].

1.2 The discussion paper set out The Scottish Government’s plans to develop an Environment Strategy, in order to:

  • articulate the overarching ambitions that Scotland’s environment policies are working collectively to achieve;
  • promote a whole-of-government approach to their delivery (for example by demonstrating their role in achieving the Scottish Government’s National Outcomes and contribution to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals); and
  • identify high level priorities that will help to guide and coordinate activity over the coming years. 

1.3 Online discussion questions invited feedback on:

  • A draft vision (describing the ambition that Scotland’s environment policies are working collectively to achieve).
  • A set of draft supporting outcomes (which must be delivered in order to achieve the vision).
  • A series of draft Knowledge Accounts (summarising key evidence on a range of environmental themes, which will help to identify priorities for action).

1.4 The online discussion ran for eight weeks, and findings of the discussion analysis will help to inform the development of the strategy.

Profile of participants and engagement with the online discussion

1.5 The online discussion received 96 responses from 21 individuals and 75 organisations[4].

1.6 Participants provided responses to the discussion through the online platform Citizen Space (83 responses) or by emailing their responses to the Scottish Government (14 responses). They were asked to submit a Respondent Information Form (RIF) to establish their identity, contact details and publication preferences. On the basis of a RIF being only partially completed, a response from one individual was excluded, leaving 95 responses for analysis.

1.7 Over half of the organisations that took part in the online discussion have an environmental focus or responsibility for the management of natural assets within their remit. The profile of organisations that took part is as follows:

  • 24 environmental bodies and campaign groups, for example Friends of the Earth, Scottish Wildlife Trust and Woodland Trust Scotland.
  • 21 membership organisations or associations including CONFOR, the Law Society of Scotland and the National Farmers Union Scotland.
  • 10 public sector organisations and Non-Departmental Public Bodies such as Historic Environment Scotland, NHS Health Scotland, Scottish Canals and Crown Estate Scotland.
  • 5 environmental research groups for example the James Hutton Institute, The Department for Social Responsibility and Sustainability, University of Edinburgh.
  • 7 local authorities.
  • 7 businesses, such as EDF Energy, The Scottish Salmon Company and BioBags Scotland Ltd.

Approach to analysis and reporting

1.8 A coding framework, based on a review of the discussion questions and sample of responses was developed. Qualitative data (responses to open questions) was coded manually according to specific themes; quantitative data was analysed with Excel.

1.9 While qualitative analysis of open-ended questions does not permit the quantification of results, we signify the weight of a particular view with the following framework:

  • Almost all - dominant theme across responses.
  • Many/several - a reoccurring theme, not mentioned by all.
  • Some/a few - a minor theme.
  • A small number - infrequent mention by more than one respondent, not common.
  • One - issue raised by one respondent.

1.10 This report presents the range of views expressed and trends amongst responses.  During analysis it became evident that a few participants repeated aspects of their responses across questions. In some cases, parts of a response aligned more closely with another question in the discussion document. To avoid repetition, the analysis is presented under the most appropriate thematic heading.

1.11 Where appropriate, quotes have been included to illustrate key points. Quotes provide useful examples, insights and contextual information, but may not always represent the views of entire groups, such as entire industries, sectors, or geographic areas of Scotland. Where participants gave permission for their responses to be published we have quoted directly, however minor spelling or grammatical errors have been corrected to improve readability.

1.12 Two organisations asked for their response not to be published. Their responses were included in analysis, but no quotes have been drawn from their submissions. In all cases, where a quote is drawn from an individual, it has been attributed to an ‘individual’ rather than a specific person.

Report structure

1.13 The Lines Between were commissioned ‘to produce a clear and concise report for publication, that reflects a robust analysis of the responses to the discussion paper’. This report presents the findings:

  • Chapter 2 presents an analysis of responses to the draft vision statement.
  • Chapter 3 presents an analysis of responses to the six draft outcomes.
  • Chapter 4 presents an analysis of general responses to the eight draft Knowledge Accounts (with a more detailed analysis of comments on individual Knowledge Accounts in Appendix 1).
  • Chapter 5 presents conclusions and reflections for the Scottish Government to consider when developing the Environment Strategy.