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

2a. 2. Communication Concept - Planning phase

One important aim of the communication concept was to ensure an early involvement of the local inhabitants in order to engage them in the process of developing ideas and to make them familiar with the project´s overall background. This information and participation process right from the start of the project was considered necessary in order to become aware of neighbours´ wishes and concerns that might be taken into account by the planners and to gain public acceptance by this transparent approach. Therefore a first information meeting was held close to the measure site right before the beginning of the planning phase. In order to enhance public interest and “give a face to the authority“ the letter of invitation for the residents was not just sent by mail but was directly distributed on-site by members of the project. This ensured a first informal contact to parts of the locals and increased the interest for the project and the information meeting.
At the first meeting the overall management targets and possible synergies with nature conservation and flood protection were presented to the local public. Chances for local recreation were highlighted and first ideas for possible designs of the new area discussed. The locals were invited to give advice and provide ideas for the next planning steps and also to raise concerns. The concerns and ideas were communicated to the planning office and the planning company in order to check the possibilities of taking them into account.

During the proceeding planning process a second meeting was held, in order to present the intermediate results of the first planning phase and to answer the questions and discuss the ideas of the first meeting. Again this forum turned out to be a good opportunity to keep close contact to the locals and to sensitise the people for the aims of the project. Furthermore the positive aspects and benefits of the measure were presented.

At the end of the planning process, right before preparing the documents for the planning approval, another information meeting was scheduled. This meeting gave an overview about the planning steps, the assessment of alternative designs and computations which resulted in the special design of the new area in order to consider all widespread aspects of the project in the best possible way. The design of the measure led to a couple of questions concerning the stability of the dyke and the sustainability of the shallow water area. However, after comprehensive expert explanations and open discussions the audience was contented with the given information and no escalation occurred.

Besides involving the local inhabitants during the whole planning phase, other authorities being responsible for special aspects like nature conservation, or for the protection of water and groundwater, were contacted. Their questions and concerns were checked right before they could become a problem in the approval phase or later on in the status of execution.

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