In one project, RTE has tested a new approach for early involvement of the population. The CNPD - The National Commission on the Public Debate, an institution created to reinforces participatory democracy on environmental issues, had decided against a public debate. However, RTE judged it necessary to involve the public early in the process. RTE therefore entrusted a consultancy to conduct a public survey on the sensitivities of this region.
About the practice:
Around 120 interviews based on open questions were conducted with citizens living in the area. The questionnaires included topics like the relationship to nature or the general way of life. On this basis, 12 people were identified as being representative for the whole region. They were invited to a citizen conference, which lasted a total of six days spread over a period of seven months.
In these conferences, participants were invited to draw in a map as much information about the region as they wanted to. In the end, the 12 people agreed on one synthesis, pointing out where a future line should not be built and giving ideas for mitigation and compensation projects. This final map was taken into account by RTE when developing corridor options. Representatives of RTE state that the results were useful for the spatial planning since regional sensitivities could be taken into account at an early stage, and that it enabled the silent majority rather than opponents to take part in the process.