Dr. Bettina Lange, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, Oxford and Dr. Mark Shepheard, Law Faculty, McGill University
An unresolved question in natural resource stewardship literature: what is the significance of private property rights for protecting common pool resources? How is an economic right to water conceptualized and what drives these conceptions?
Various types of rights conceptions: administrative rights, new property, individual/collective rights, common pool resource conceptions in flux policy reforms
Purpose: map how farmers think about a right to water and identify key factors that shape such conceptions
2 contrasting exploratory case studies: a water rich region (North-East) and water scarce one (Anglia), variation in further factors
Qualitative empirical data: interviews with 12 key stakeholders and analysis of key public policy documents and relevant legislation
An eco-socio-legal perspective
Hybrid rights-stewardship conceptions: focus on water quantity
- on a substantive discursive level: water conservation is seen as part and parcel of running an efficient farm business
- on a procedural level: an administrative right to water becomes qualified through stewardship conceptions
1. Green production and consumption standards: voluntary farm product assurance schemes and contractual relationships with supermarkets
2. The legal institutional framework: - the legal framework for abstraction licensing - self-regulation: water sharing among farmers
3. Ways of thinking about the space in which water for abstraction flows and in which it is used.
Associated with commercial chains in which farmers are embedded Stronger influence on water conservation than the abstraction licensing system? Appear to foster stewardship, but Emphasis on product quality and market access creates a commercial reality that downplays water conservation e.g. potato skin finish (vanity vegetables)
Abstraction licensing: -qualification of individual administrative right to abstract: EU habitats protection -limitation of compensation rights -transfer into environmental permitting
Response to this framework also shaped by nature of the farm tenancy: quarry farming
Farmer collaboration to manage water scarcity, water abstractors groups: a forum for negotiation of water sharing arrangements with the regulator Single common licence or agreed restrictions common to a group Giving rise to hybrid rights-stewardship conceptions Adjusting individual administrative rights toward stewardship requires arrangements to reward reductions and incentives for sharing.
Space: a natural pre-given category or shaped by regulatory objectives and thus power relations?
The space of the farm: farms as networks of parcels of land common pool resource conception of water
The catchment: water flowing in interconnected channels: common pool resource conception of water
Ecologically embedded water stewardship
rights and regulation often understood as distinct socio-legal phenomena But here structural internal links between rights to and regulation of water Approaches to water use also shaped by discursive constructions of rights claims Opening up a conception of rights: tort of breach of statutory duty