This paper presents results of an international comparative research project, funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Academy for Sustainable Communities (ASC) on the 'learning potential of appraisal (strategic environmental assessment - SEA) in spatial planning'. In this context, aspects of 'single-loop' and 'double-loop' learning, as well as of individual, organisational and social learning are discussed for emerging post-EC Directive German practice in the planning region (Zweckverband) of Brunswick (Braunschweig), focusing on four spatial plan SEAs from various administrative levels in the region. It is found that whilst SEA is able to lead to plan SEA specific knowledge acquisition, comprehension, application and analysis ('single-loop learning'), it is currently resulting only occasionally in wider synthesis and evaluation ('double-loop learning'). Furthermore, whilst there is evidence that individual and occasionally organisational learning may be enhanced through SEA, most notably in small municipalities, social learning appears to be happening only sporadically.
Fischer, T. B., Kidd, S., Jha-Thakur, U., Gazzola, P., & Peel, D. (2009). Learning through EC directive based SEA in spatial planning? Evidence from the Brunswick Region in Germany. Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 29(6), 421-428. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eiar.2009.03.001