Project ISOLUS

Public consultation; analysis and reporting.    Funding:  UK MoD

Note: This 'other project' was carried out when working at Lancaster University, prior to setting up PublicSpace.

Project Isolus

When working at Lancaster University's Centre for the Study of Environmental Change (CSEC), Simon Pardoe and Kathleen Cross co-facilitated and then analysed and reported the public discussion groups for the UK Ministry of Defence's 2001 Project ISOLUS public consultation.  This was the first major national public consultation commissioned by the MoD.

In the analysis and reporting, we explored the potential for shifting away from the usual form of reporting, to maximise direct quotation from members of the public.  This was more challenging in terms of the analysis because (as in video) the report had to be constructed from what was actually said, rather than from our summary of what was said.  The positive consequence was that the reports were engaging and read with interest.  The Steering Group and MoD were able to read engaged public comment directly, and so quote things that people had said in the discussions, and better understand and respect the points being made.  It greatly increased the value and impact of the focussed discussion groups and the understanding generated by them.

Members of the ISOLUS steering group commented that the public discussions and reports had broken new ground in showing that valuable insight could be gained from public consultation even on complex technological issues.

Further information:

The Project ISOLUS public consultation (2001-02) was commissioned and funded by the Warships Support Agency of the UK Ministry of Defence.  The stated aim was to 'define, develop and procure a safe and publicly acceptable method for the interim storage of the radioactive material from decommissioned submarines'.

It was carried out under contract by independent researchers from the Centre for the Study of Environmental Change at Lancaster University, overseen by a Steering Group consisting of representatives of various organisations with relevant expertise.