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Office of Technology Assessment at the German Bundestag Office of Technology Assessment at the German Bundestag

Information on the project

Balance of interests in infrastructure projects: Options for action with regard to local communication and organization

Thematic area: Energy, resources, environment
Analytical approach: Monitoring
Topic initiative: Committee on Education, Research and Technology Assessment
Status: completed
Duration: 2014 till 2015

Background and central aspects of the topic

Infrastructure projects concluded at the German federal level, which have to be implemented at the local level (rural districts and municipalities), very often give rise to partly very committed or emotional debates and various conflicting interests. Particularly local elected political representatives are confronted with this situation. Currently, this is especially virulent for the expansion of electricity grids. The citizens expect their political representatives to adopt a clear position and to play an active role as an advocate of the citizens' interests. On the other hand, the project promoters (here: the responsible operators of transmission networks) assume that politicians will justify the decisions adopted and that they will assume responsibility for a smooth implementation of these decisions.

Against this background, the TA project shall deal with the topic of the »expansion of electricity grids« in an exemplary way. The major objective is to develop practice-oriented options for action regarding communication strategies and participation procedures on a conceptually and scientifically sound basis. Here, current findings of communication and cooperation research are used as a basis.

Results

Based on an evaluation of existing relevant findings of communication and cooperation research, so-called »best-practice examples« of participation procedures already carried out shall be identified, analyzed and assessed, i.a. with regard to local constellations of protagonists and problems, to factors of success as well as to transferability. The results shall be summed up in a position paper which shall be used as input and as a basis for discussion for two round tables with interested Members of the German Bundestag.

The first round table shall investigate the experiences made in the regions concerned when it comes to discussions about planned electricity lines. It shall be brought to light what are the needs for supporting measures in order to enable a constructive dialog. At the same time, room shall be provided for a structured exchange of experiences across all political divides.

The topic shall be substantiated and enhanced by means of approximately three or four regions or constituencies serving as examples. For this purpose, dialog rounds or workshops and/or discussions with local stakeholders and disseminators shall be carried out in order to get more detailed knowledge of the constellations of protagonists as well as of the corresponding state of information and discussion. On this basis, suggestions for further action to be taken shall be developed. Within the framework of this project, it is not planned to realize public events on site. Instead the aim is to create a solid basis in order that public discussion and participation procedures can be performed on an equal footing and - hopefully - with results that can be supported by all relevant stakeholders.

The second round table shall present and discuss the intermediate results obtained so far. Taking into consideration the feedback gained here from political representatives, tangible options for action shall be developed as well as prepared and published in the form of »guidelines« for elected political representatives, particularly for Members of the German Bundestag.

For TAB this project constitutes partly uncharted territory since the main goal is to provide very concrete practical guidance to parliamentarians in a current societal and political field of dispute.

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