The economic value of improvements in the ecology of Irish rivers due to the water framework directive
Following the implementation of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) integrated catchment management plans must be prepared for all river basins, in order to achieve ‘good ecological status’ (GES) in all EU waters. This concept is a broader measure of water quality than the chemical and biological measures, which were previously dominant in EU water policy. The Directive also calls for a consideration of the economic costs and benefits of improvements to ecological status in catchment management plans, along with the introduction of full social cost pricing for water use.
In this thesis, the primary focus is on the use of the Choice Experiment (CE) method.
The CE method is reviewed and then used to estimate the value of improvements in a number of components of ecological status on two Irish waterways (the Boyne and the Suir). Apart from CE method another stated preference approach to environmental valuation is also considered; the Contingent Valuation Method (CVM). This thesis determines what value the targeted population of the two catchments place on the nonmarket economic benefits of moves towards GES by employing both approaches and various model specifications, while the applicability of Benefit Transfer (BT) method is also assessed under different tests. In addition, the design of the questionnaire used in the survey stage of the research, offered the possibility of investigating issues related to the effect of cognitive ability and psychometric factors on choice. Respondents with discontinuous preferences are identified and analysis is conducted to investigate the implications of not accounting for these preferences. Finally, due to experiencing protesting behaviour by a proportion of the sampling population an attempt is made to investigate the parameters that contributed to this inclination.