Project part-financed by the European Union (European Regional Development Fund)

The Interreg IVB North Sea Region Programme

The authors are solely responsible for the content of this report. Material included herein does not represent the opinion of the European Community, and the European Community is not responsible for any use that might be made of it.
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Development / implementation of a new communication concept


by Manfred Meine, Kirsten Wolfstein, Jörn Gutbrod and Johanna Knüppel

3. Conclusions

After having received the planning approval for the new shallow water area at ’Spadenlander Busch / Kreetsand’ in April 2012 construction works were tendered immediately. Preliminary works such as reinforcing the dyke for crossing soil transports or measures for continuous ecological functionality (CEF) finally started in June; major earthworks will start by the End of 2012.

For the Dyke Booth a feasibility study assessing technical, architectural and communication aspects was carried out in 2011; subsequently the final investment decision was taken by the HPA and respective plans were drawn and planning approval was granted in the first half-year of 2012. After tendering for the construction of the Dyke Booth in August 2012, the construction will be ordered and completed by the beginning of 2013. The opening and dedication of the Dyke Booth will be used to raise publicity for the “Tidal area Kreetsand”, for the sustainable development of the tidal Elbe and also for the integrated estuarine management as promoted by “TIDE”.


The following recommendations for a communication concept concerning planning and implementation of river engineering measures in tidal estuaries can be derived from the experience hitherto gained at the tidal Elbe:
  1. Give the stakeholders a face. The more you show up personally and directly get in contact, the better are you chances to achieve acceptance.
  2. Explain your reasoning for measures planned and executed in estuarine management in a plain and understandable way. Very often stakeholders and involved parties are simply lacking information and therefore stick to “professional” opinion leaders who may follow their specific interests. The better you communicate your ideas, rationale and plans the better is your chance to get acceptance by the involved parties.
  3. Look for synergies that may affect different parties. The more synergies there are the more “partners” you will get and the broader the acceptance for a project can be.
  4. All involved or interested parties should be informed and heard at an early planning stage. This early participation and openness allows
    • early recognition of frictions or opposition and adequate reaction
    • identification of win-win situations and the forming of partnerships,
    • to demonstrate your integrity and subject orientation.
  5. Look for local players, neighbours, stakeholders, organisations who might be affected by your plans or projects. Your communication plan should primarily focus on these.
  6. Identify opinion leaders and try to convince them in advance of planning processes, preferably by direct contact.
  7. Show people that you take care of their concerns by listening to and balancing their interests. This requires an open dialogue.
  8. During longer processes keep stakeholders informed – sustain their engagement by repeated information events, newsletters or individual mail. Otherwise stakeholders or involved parties will feel misused and doubt your integrity.
  9. Look into the subjects / criticisms brought forward and discuss these openly and straightforwardly with the involved parties. If you will not follow suggestions or arguments do explain why you cannot. Even if the involved parties do not follow your reasoning they will at least have the chance to accept your reasoning.
  10. Try to identify the reasons for opposition. The real ones might be hidden behind the ones brought forward.
  11. In discussions on measures / plans affecting different parties and concerns try to involve different stakeholder groups. The direct clash of classic conflicts such as recreation vs nature conservation will force the parties to look for mutual benefits rather than build up barriers against each other. The communication task for the planners is to mediate and look for solutions that suit different purposes or concerns.
  12. If possible set up and use new ways of communication, e.g. a temporary exhibition with relation to the background and positive aspects of the project, in order to reach wider public and to enthuse people for the measure.

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