Journal of Property, Planning and Environmental Law
- Emerald Group Publishing Limited
- Publication date:
- Guest editorial
- China in transition towards a circular economy: from policy to practice
Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine China's approach to circular economy (CE) and investigate how the foreign concept of CE has been turned into a national strategy for implementation in production, circulation and consumption. This study aims to highlight the Chinese characteristics in the implementation of CE from central to local levels including the “trial and test” by pilot schemes and the role of local governments in CE transformation of industrial parks and in building CE cities. Based on what has been achieved, this paper aims to identify the gaps to be filled in the next stage of CE implementation. Design/methodology/approach: This paper engages in critical analysis of state policies, plans, laws and regulations and case studies of Suzhou New District and Shanghai city in the building CE-oriented industrial park and CE city, respectively. Findings: China has taken a top-down approach to CE characterised by strong government involvement in both policy and plan making and implementation at local levels. The government’s financial investment and administrative assistance proved to be crucial in the early stage of CE implementation to close the loop at industrial parks and in cities. In comparison, participation by enterprises and individuals is still weak and limited, which should be the focus of the next stage of CE implementation. Originality/value: There is an absence of legal literature that studies circular economy in China. This paper fills the gap by examining the development of CE law and policy as well as CE implementation at local levels from industrial parks to cities.
- Transitioning towards circular systems: property rights in waste
Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to explore the impact that property rights can have on the implementation of circular waste economies, in which waste is reused, recycled or recovered, within the European Union’s Waste Framework Directive. Design/methodology/approach: A theoretical lens is applied to the legal definition as well as production and treatment cycle of waste to understand the property rights that can exist in waste. Findings: This paper argues that even though different property rights regimes can apply to waste during its creation, disposal and recovery, the waste management regulatory and legal system is currently predominantly set up to support waste within classic forms of private property ownership. This tends towards commodification and linear systems, which are at odds with an approach that treats waste as a primary wanted resource rather than an unwanted by-product. It is recommended that adopting state or communal property approaches instead could affect systemic transformative change by facilitating the reconceptualisation of waste as a resource for everyone to use. Research limitations/implications: The property rights issues are only one dimension of a bigger puzzle. The roles of social conceptualisation, norms, regulations and policies in pursuing circular strategies are only touched upon, but not fully explored in this paper. These provide other avenues that can be underpinned by certain property regimes to transition to circular economies. Originality/value: The literature focused on property rights in waste has been very limited to date. To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this paper is the first to consider this question in detail from a legal perspective.
- Property’s competing values: the public house re-cycled as “community asset”
Purpose: This paper aims to investigate the potential of the “image-idea” of a “circular economy” for re-thinking property in law: In particular, to develop a strategy for making visible “alternative property practices” of community ownership across the subject areas of business and property law, to enhance the visibility of models of community ownership and interrogate their potential. Design/methodology/approach: Case study research was undertaken into three public houses to investigate the ways in which the orthodoxies of property and ownership in the academy are challenged by evidence of “alternative property practices” in the community. Findings: Using this approach renders visible tensions between the logics of economic value and social asset, carried in processes of abstraction and materiality, and mediated within the field of property by the development of techniques for holding property as title and benefit. It reveals the ways in which “property” as idea, practice and technique is used by people seeking to disrupt or defend against the economic logic of profit and investment. It raises questions concerning how property and law is imaged in the academy and it introduces one way of using an image-idea to open new perspectives and potential. Research limitations/implications: These implications emerge: the partiality of orthodox accounts of property; the importance of thinking property in terms of life-cycle and logics ecologies, field and techniques; how an model-theory derived from one discipline can be repurposed, in a second life, in an other discipline as an “image-idea” to refresh the host discipline; the significance of investigating “community assets” within and for property law and the need for more research into “alternative property practices” and the importance of case studies. Practical implications: An enhanced knowledge of the development and potential of “community assets” within the academy, and of the potential to promote and support “alternative property practices” with the requisite legal skills and techniques – alongside a consideration of the limits of formal law in terms of policy expectations. Social implications: The research is of value to community activists in thinking how law can be used to support community development in terms of holding community assets; and the limitations of formal law which then requires an embedded approach considering how the development of practices and narratives can support community initiatives in relation to property held for community benefit. Originality/value: There has been very little coverage of “community assets” within legal research, especially moving across business and property as subject areas, and no coverage on public houses taken into community ownership. This paper combines an introduction to the relevant legal forms with a consideration of the use of them in practice: considering, in particular, how practices and narratives deployed by and within the community think and present “property” as a means by which to counter the economic logic of profit. All this is made possible through the use of case-studies made visible by the utilization of the image-idea of the circular economy – used here not as a model-theory, but rather as an aid to opening thinking into new territories accessed through new perspectives.
- A circular economy for electric vehicle batteries: driving the change
Purpose: With the UK’s accelerating plans to transition to electric mobility, this paper aims to highlight the need for policies to prepare for appropriate management of electric vehicle (EV) lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) as they reach the end of their life. Design/methodology/approach: This is a regulatory review based on projections of EV LIBs coming off the market and associated problems of waste management together with the development of a servitisation model. Findings: Circular economy in EV LIBs is unlikely to shape itself because LIB recycling is challenging and still in development. LIB volumes are insufficient for recycling to be currently profitable, and a circular economy here will need to be driven by regulatory intervention. Ignoring the problem carries potentially high environmental and health costs. This paper offers potential solutions through new EV ownership models to facilitate a circular economy. Research limitations/implications: The authors suggest a new EV ownership model. However, despite environmental benefits, re-shaping the fundamentals of market economies can have disruptive effects on current markets. Therefore, further exploration of this topic is needed. Also, the data presented is based on future projections of EV markets, battery lifespan, etc., which are uncertain at present. These are to be taken as estimates only. Originality/value: The paper proposes regulatory interventions or incentives to fundamentally change consumer ideas of property ownership for EVs, so that EV automotive batteries remain the property of the manufacturer even when the consumer owns the car.
- Waste, marginal property practices and the circular economy
Purpose: This paper aims to examine the effect of circular economy’s ending of waste on marginal property practices. Design/methodology/approach: This paper utilises doctrinal and theoretical legal analysis, along with theoretical perspectives and qualitative empirical evidence drawn from non-legal academic disciplines. Findings: The current legalistic conception of waste depends on control and value. The indeterminate status of waste as goods at the margins of consumption attracts attention from legal regimes. This process is evidenced by a commercialised treatment of goods at the margins of consumption, limiting the scope of radical marginal property practices such as freeganism (taking goods abandoned by others, to use such goods). Social implications: The circular economy aims to end waste. Restriction, and ultimately elimination, of marginal property practices is necessary for circular economy. Freegans will be limited to acting in a “challenge” role, identifying breaches of commercial commodification processes. Control over the use (including disposal) of goods reduces the spaces available for marginal property practices, which in turn raises problematic normative implications for “normal” consumption practices involving waste. Originality/value: This is the first examination of the impact of circular economy on freeganism. It is also the first sustained application of marginal property theory (van der Walt, 2009) in a legal analysis of circular economy and waste.
- Guest editorial
- Constraints and benefits of the blockchain use for real estate and property rights
Purpose: Many recent social media posts and news may create a perception of big success in the use of blockchain for the real estate industry, land registration and protection of titles and property rights. A sobering outlook is crucial because misleading concepts may bury the whole idea of blockchain use. This paper aims to research the possibilities of blockchain and other distributed ledger technologies (DLT) and applicability of these technologies for different purposes in real estate, property rights and public registries. Design/methodology/approach: This research is framed with policy studies and focuses on property rights, land registration regulatory framework and information and communication technologies innovations. The context of this paper is decentralization which has been developed in political science studies and the role of blockchain and DLT in it. Therefore, the provided analysis of blockchain and DLT is interdisciplinary research to interpret the facets of DLT technologies in the context of real estate and land title registration. Findings: Permissioned and private DLT systems cannot be considered a significant evolutionary step in government systems. Blockchain, which is distinguished from permissioned systems as the technology of the immutable ledger that does not require authorities, is a new word in governance. However, this technology has some principal features that can restrain its implementation at the state level and thus require further research and development. The application of blockchain requires a proper architecture of overlaid technologies to support changes of outdated and mistaken data, address issues of digital identity and privacy, legal compliance and enforceability of smart contracts and scalability of the ledger. Originality/value: This paper shows the constraints of the technology’s properties which were not explained before in the context of title rights and land registration even though technological limits are known in more specific technical sources. Along with the known benefits this meant to help to avoid misinterpretation of some DLT features by non-technical people. A multidisciplinary approach in analyzing the technology and laws helped to better understand what can and cannot be beneficial for public registries and the protection of property rights. The presented outcomes can be laid down as requirements for the technical protocols aimed at addressing the issues of DLT and public policies to put blockchain at the service of society.
- Dutch blockchain, real estate and land registration
Purpose: A first exploration of the impact of blockchain on real estate in the Netherlands took place in 2017. In the follow-up, several blockchain and real estate studies have appeared with research on real estate and blockchain worldwide. In view of the previous research, the question remained as to what is now happening worldwide in the field of blockchain and real estate. This has resulted in the start-up of the Foundation for International Blockchain and Real Estate Expertise (FIBREE) network. This network has led to the launch of two investigations: Industry Report Blockchain Real Estate 2019 on exploration of international products and a database exploring blockchain and real estate on exploring (inter)national research. This paper aims to provides an overview and analysis of all relevant scientific publications – targeted on the Netherlands – and does so within a context of a first small international exploration of international research, experts and products – in particular land registration. Design/methodology/approach: I have asked everybody at the Regionals Chairs of FIBREE to collect data with info about which blockchain and real estate product-suppliers or initiatives do you see, which research-output on blockchain and real estate is there and who are the experts with which specific expertise? This paper provides an overview and analysis of all relevant scientific publications – targeted on the Netherlands – and does so within a context of a first small international exploration of international research, experts and products – in particular land registration. Findings: This paper provides an overview and analysis of all relevant scientific publications – targeted on the Netherlands – and does so within a context of a first small international exploration of international research, experts and products – in particular land registration. Research limitations/implications: A question that remains is to continue to look at existing markets or too disruptive innovation newcomers in the blockchain market. The question is whether blockchain is only a technological disruption or a real game changer and whether the entire value chain of the market is going to embrace this. Confidence in blockchain is therefore a precondition for guiding that disruption where (new) companies use new technology to offer cheaper and superior alternatives in the market. But the big question is how quickly blockchain will develop as well as all its applications. Practical/social implications: A question that remains is to continue to look at existing markets or too disruptive innovation newcomers in the blockchain market. The question is whether blockchain is only a technological disruption or a real game changer and whether the entire value chain of the market is going to embrace this. Confidence in blockchain is therefore a precondition for guiding that disruption where (new) companies use new technologies to offer cheaper and superior alternatives in the market. But the big question is how quickly blockchain will develop as well as all its applications. Originality/value: A first exploration of the influence of blockchain on real estate in the Netherlands took place in 2017. In the follow-up, several blockchain and real estate studies appear with research about real estate and blockchain worldwide.
- Skin lands in Ghana and application of blockchain technology for acquisition and title registration
Purpose: The land sector in Ghana, particularly skin lands acquisition and title registration are fraught with several issues including unreliable record-keeping systems and land encroachments. The paper explores the potential of blockchain application in skin lands acquisition and title registration in Ghana with the aim of developing a blockchain-enabled framework for land acquisition. The purpose of this paper is to use the framework as a tool towards solving some of the loopholes in the process that leads to numerous issues bedeviling the current system. Design/methodology/approach: The paper adopts a systematic literature review approach fused with informal discussions with key informants and leverages on the researchers’ own experiences to conceptualize blockchain application in skin lands acquisition in Ghana. Findings: Problems bedeviling skin lands acquisition and title registration emanated from the issuance of allocation notes, payment of kola money and use of a physical ledger to document land transactions. As a result, the developed framework was designed to respond to these issues and deal with the problems. As the proposed blockchain framework would be a public register, it was argued that information on all transactions on a specific parcel of land could be available to the public in real-time. This enhances transparency and possibly resolves the issue of encroachments and indeterminate land boundaries because stakeholders can determine rightful owners of land parcels before initiating transactions. Practical implications: Practically, blockchain technology has the potential to deal with the numerous issues affecting the smooth operation of skin lands acquisition and title registration in Ghana. Once the enumerated issues are resolved, there will be certainty of title to and ownership of land and property to drive investments because lenders could more easily ascertain owners of land parcels that could be used as collateral for securing loans. Similarly, property developers and land purchasers could easily identify rightful owners for land transactions. The government would be able to identify owners for land and property taxation. Originality/value: This paper contributes to the literature on blockchain and application to land acquisition and title registration with a focus on a specific customary land ownership system.
- Chilean housing policy: a pendant human rights perspective
Purpose: This paper aims to analyse the Chilean housing policy from a human rights perspective. The work is based on the framework to study socio, economic and social rights as human rights developed by the current special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights to describe the steps...
- Guest editorial
- Regeneration of brownfield land: the environmental law challenges
Purpose: The purpose of the project was to investigate environmental law issues surrounding the regeneration of brownfield land. Design/methodology/approach: Following a literature review, an inductive approach and an interpretivist epistemology with a phenomenological focus were chosen. A...
- Transitioning towards circular systems: property rights in waste
Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to explore the impact that property rights can have on the implementation of circular waste economies, in which waste is reused, recycled or recovered, within the European Union’s Waste Framework Directive. Design/methodology/approach: A theoretical lens is...
- China in transition towards a circular economy: from policy to practice
Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine China's approach to circular economy (CE) and investigate how the foreign concept of CE has been turned into a national strategy for implementation in production, circulation and consumption. This study aims to highlight the Chinese characteristics...
- Guest editorial
- Regulating the private rented sector: millennial themes
Purpose: This paper considers the evolution of government policies regarding the provision of housing in the private rented sector and the regulation of landlord behaviour by mapping this onto known regulatory theory. It argues that the current regulatory trajectory is highly problematic both from...
- Transnational environmental regulation and the normativisation of global environmental governance standards. The promise of order from chaos?
Purpose: This paper aims to propose a legal characterisation of the recent proliferation, across the broad range of global environmental good governance initiatives and practices, of a diverse mix of regulatory environmental standards, many of which are informal in origin insofar as they are...
- Compensating regulation of land: UK and Singapore compared
Purpose: The paper aims to analyse and compare how UK and Singapore deal with compensation with respect to regulation of land (short of a physical taking). The purpose is to determine whether the non-compensation in each jurisdiction is justified. Design/methodology/approach: A comparative method...
- Housing not for all. The lack of universal accessibility to housing in multi-unit buildings in Spain, Sweden and Germany
Purpose: This study aims to explore the current situation of universal accessibility to multi-unit buildings in three European countries (Spain, Germany and Sweden), in view of the lack of effective European rules on this topic, with the aim to identify which legal frameworks and policies may be...