Improving public participation in large-scale projects
Ramsauer: The Public Participation Manual is designed to act as a guide for better participation and to provide information to the public
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Large-scale transport projects, such as the construction of motorways, railway lines, airports or locks, take years to complete and are frequently opposed by local residents. In the Coalition Agreement, the Federal Government set itself the goal of improving public participation while at the same time accelerating the construction of large-scale transport projects.
In Berlin today, the Federal Minister of Transport, Building and Urban Development, Peter Ramsauer, and the Federal Minister of the Interior, Hans-Peter Friedrich, showed how this was to be achieved.
Hans-Peter Friedrich presented a "Planning Simplification Bill", which will introduce "early public participation" in large-scale projects before the actual approval procedure begins. This is designed to avoid conflicts, to ease the burden on subsequent plan approval procedures and to reduce the number of judicial appeals against official decisions.
Federal Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich:
"The purpose of public participation is to include people's ideas in the procedures governing large-scale projects. Currently, however, the public is often not involved until the formal administrative procedure, in other words not until project planning has already been concluded. We want to change this, and the instrument for doing so is the bill for "improving public participation and harmonizing plan approval procedures", which was adopted by the Federal Government in February. The bill provides for early public participation before the actual administrative procedure. In this way, the ideas of the public can be included in the decision-making process at an early stage."
The bill for "improving public participation and harmonizing plan approval procedures" is due to enter into force in the autumn.
Peter Ramsauer presented the draft of the "Public Participation Manual". It is designed to help authorities and developers to implement good public participation. Based on studies of completed and ongoing large-scale projects, a "toolkit" of instruments has been prepared which have proved successful both within and in addition to the public participation required by law and which can provide guidance in future projects.
Federal Minister Peter Ramsauer:
"Public participation in the planning of large-scale transport projects has been a major issue for a long time, going back way beyond Stuttgart 21. Today, it is no longer sufficient to simply go through the stages of the statutory consultation procedures. We have to improve the processes, and we have to do so on a case-by-case basis. Our prosperity is dependent on a high-capacity transport network. For this reason, large-scale projects must continue to be possible. Germany must remain not only the country of ideas but also the country of implementation. We have to increase acceptance of the projects by taking the public on board right from the outset – both critics and supporters."
The manual starts by presenting the existing comprehensive procedural steps required by law for public participation. Building on this, it make suggestions as to how these steps can be better and more effectively used in processes such as regional impact assessments or plan approval procedures and widened by additional measures and activities.
Because the manual is about public participation, the public are also to be involved in its production. Interested citizens, institutions, associations and other bodies have until 9 May to submit comments and suggestions on the draft presented today. After the comments have been analyzed, the final manual will be published in the autumn.
manual on public participation (concept) (pdf, 2 mb)
only available in German