Public participation – for the success of the turn of energy policies?
In which phase of the ideas generation, planning and implementation process should the public be involved and in what way? How do decision makers not only receive an insight into the needs of different groups of the population but also, how can ideas be included for further implementation?
In the view of the workshop participants, the perspectives of the public are often included in the planning process inadequately and too late: In most cases, only organised interests ("lobbyists") are reached, with no representative cross-section of those affected, so that general questions such as benefits for the general public are neglected. In many cases the windows for participations are also limited, i.e. they are limited to short, formalised phases, in which planning and design proposals are already in an advanced stage. This can be frustrating, so that the consequence is that participation in public consultation procedures worsens steadily.
In order to get out of this negative spiral, it is necessary to check each project to determine which target group(s) is/are affected and how and to what extent their participation is useful: How strong is public interest? What organisational freedom exists? The participation "how" is based on this: mere information, dialogue or joint organisation and design. Professional organisation and moderation is key to the success of more complex dialogue formats. Participation by the consultants involved, i.e. engineers, planners, etc. is also important to ensure a common knowledge base and to be able to value the contributions of the public appropriately.