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Newsletter, July 2006

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Defra consultation on the review of England's Waste Strategy

This consultation ran from February to May 2006. More than 2500 stakeholders were invited to participate, including environmental organisations, local and regional government, waste and recycling industry, consultancies, trade associations and interested individuals. The objective was to review Waste Strategy 2000 and proposals and ideas for the new waste strategy. The consultation aroused a remarkable degree of interest: over 4000 responses were received, reflecting a wide spectrum of views on the various aspects of the consultation document.

Our challenge was to present a complex consultation in a way that allowed participants to quickly find the information of interest to them, and to integrate the processing of results submitted online, by e-mail and on paper.

The consultation documents were quite extensive with a large number of questions. The document was divided into 10 main sections with 40 subsections. For each subsection, a webpage displayed the relevant text followed by the consultation questions relevant to that section. A content menu allowed participants to jump directly to any section of interest and completed sections were marked with a colour code. As for all of our online consultations, participants could come back and edit their submission at any time, making it easy for a long submission to be entered at several sittings.

In terms of the responses, we had to integrate three streams of incoming submissions: online via the website, email, and post. While responses via the website were directly saved into the consultation database, email responses had to be transferred into the database via a special interface. Postal submissions were scanned and, where possible, our tools for automated text recognition were applied. Our general principle was to bring all streams of responses together enabling us to collate and analyse them within the same system, making analysis consistent across all three streams.

A Municipal Waste Strategy consultation for the Surrey Local Government Association using a representative sample of the population

Surrey County Council and the district and borough councils of Surrey wished to build on a series of consultations that had been held on the siting of waste facilities by holding a joint consultation to look at the management of municipal waste, in particular waste minimisation and recycling and the disposal of residual waste.

We accepted responses to the consultation online via a special website, by email and using printed survey forms, and invited key stakeholders and the general public to respond. For this consultation it was felt to be particularly important to understand the balance of views across the county. So in parallel, we recruited a sample of the population of Surrey designed to be demographically representative of the population as a whole and asked them the same questions as the key stakeholders. The initial analysis already shows some interesting differences between the two parallel surveys.

See next month's newsletter for more about the conclusions.


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