Public participation and written submissions: A transport infrastructure planning case study

Publisher's full text
Hans Antonson

Written submissions or comments as a response on an EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) rank as one of the most common forms of public participation. Within public participation research there appears to be an international dearth of knowledge concerning such written submissions. The possible impact of such responses on an EIS is - with few exceptions - seldom put in focus. The aim in the present brief communication is to study one aspect of public participation within transport infrastructure planning, namely the role of written submissions sent to the applicant by individuals, Non-governmental organisations, companies and authorities. By comparing 34 written submissions with road planning documents (including EIS) the impact of the public views has been analysed in a south Swedish case study. At a time when the new Environmental Code only had been in force for less than one year, it does not appear as if the Road Administration's regional office accepted most of the written submissions just to show that the new regulation concerning participation had a direct impact on the planning. Sweden's long tradition of public access to official documents may explain why written submissions as one aspect of public participation worked well in the E18 highway planning process, because civil servants have long been taught to promptly furnish information and guidance, as well as to giving advice and other assistance to individuals in matters concerning an authority's activity. This study shows, then, that - if properly managed by the developer's street-level staff - the use of written submissions may improve the EIS from a stakeholder perspective and also make the stakeholders feel they are being taken seriously.

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