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Departmental Public Participation

Volume 481: debated on Thursday 23 October 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what (a) listening exercises and (b) public forums his Department has held in each of the last two years; and what the (i) purpose and (ii) cost was in each case; and who the private contractor was and how much it was paid in each case. (221350)

DEFRA has held one major listening exercise in the last two years. The Citizen's Summit on Climate Change in May 2007 was managed entirely through the Central Office of Information at a total cost of £440,791. These costs were in line with exercises of a similar scale and scope.

The principal objectives and benefits included:

Informing public consultation for the Climate Change Bill;

Talking about the early stages of the Act on C02 campaign to raise public awareness and help citizens to engage with climate change;

Allowing Government, industry and the public to engage in informed dialogue on climate change;

Informing the development of a broader, longer term marketing campaign.

The summit itself was the culmination of a longer term deliberative research process with a representative sample of the population. Members of the public were recruited from across the country, exposed to all sides of the debate and asked about their attitudes and behaviour on climate change.

The final event was a major participative exercise involving the then Secretary of State, the heads of the CBI, TUC and the NCC, policy officials and around 160 members of the public. The event was covered by the media and broadcast over the internet. A full research report was produced and published to capture the key learning from the exercise. This was fed into the formal consultation process of the Climate Change Bill.

The survey of those who participated indicated:

Very high satisfaction with the process;

89 per cent. said that the process had been “very important”;

Levels of feeling better informed about climate change doubled during the process, as did levels of personal engagement with the issue (“I am personally making a lot of effort” from 31 per cent. to 62 per cent.);

The process informed the development of the ‘Footprint’ creative device for the Act on C02 advertising campaign. More than 50 per cent. of those who saw the first phase of this activity said that they had or planned to take action as a result of the campaign.