This study aims to evaluate Rural Development Policy (RDP) and its ability to meet environmental objectives at European, national and regional levels. Policy evaluation is necessary to assess the processes and impact of policies and programmes to meet desired outcomes, to further ensure accountability of public funds. There a number of evaluation approaches that have varying abilities to examine the variety of interacting policy determinants. This study explores both quantitative and qualitative methods to evaluate the Scottish RDP Rural Priorities scheme performance for the programme period 2007-2013. The Rural Priorities scheme is an important mechanism for achieving environmental objectives through regionalisation. Spatial econometrics, in-depth interviews, and stakeholder power mapping were used to assess policy determinants, such as; farming characteristics, land capability, designated sites status, and accessibility and population as well as less tangible policy aspects such as; policy design, stakeholder power balances, and governance structures. Furthermore these methods were assessed singularly and in collaboration in their abilities to identify strengths and weakness in RDP participatory and environmental performance. This diversity of information contributes to the European Commission funded research project, SPARD (Spatial Analysis of Rural Development), which aims to help policy-makers understand the causal relationships between rural development measures and their consequences in a spatial dimension.
. A thesis submitted to the University of Edinburgh in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy