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Community Engagement in Rural Wastewater Services

Image of constructed wetlands under sky

Project Overview


The project explores community perspectives on wastewater services in rural Scotland, including how communities can be invovled in decision-making and design of rural services, particularly water and wastewater, but the results could also apply to other services such as energy, internet/communications and beyond.


This is a PhD project led by Grace Remmington. It is a joint project between the James Hutton Institute in Aberdeen, Cranfield University in Bedfordshire, and Scottish Water. The PhD project is supervised by:


Richard Allan (James Hutton Institute)

Rowan Ellis (James Hutton Institute)

Heather Smith (Cranfield University)

Bruce Jefferson (Cranfield University)




There has been little research done to understand rural communities' perspectives on wastewater treatment. Despite a strong focus on improving public participation within water and environmental fields, this has yet to be applied in rural wastewater. Within the context of the project, the application of a coproductive approach aims to bring together multiple stakeholders (SEPA, Scottish Water, local planners) with communities to reconsider what rural wastewater services might look like, how their values and prioirities might be better embedded in design and management, and whether it can offer the opportunity to reimagine rural works.


Structure of the research


The research has different strands.


Strand 1: Understanding the current state of knowledge in acadmia and practice of community engagement in rural wastewater services


Strand 2: Understanding community and invidivudal values and how these values might be better integrated into design and governance of wastewater treatment


Strand 3: Explore community options for the management of wastewater services, including potential models for inclusion of communities in management


Who can take part?


Most of the research takes place in pre-selected field sites in rural Scotland - one lowland, one island and one highland. Key stakeholders also form a significant gruop sof participants in the research, including those working in areas of community empowerment, rural service sand water and wastewater services.


If you would like to hear more about the project or get involved, please email:


Potential impact


As community perspectives and engagement with rural wastewater services is still underrepresented within both academia, policy and practice, the project hopes to contribute greater understanding of community values, new approaches to engagement and potential  management options for rural services.



Project Information
Project Type: 
Active Project


Areas of Interest

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The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.