EELC has engaged in public participation issues in environmental matters from its founding days. We have published guidelines both for citizens and officials to increase their knowledge and skills in this field and dealt with participation in many environmental decisions. As a continuation of our activities, we launched a new tool to assess and compare opportunities of public participation in environmental decision-making processes this autumn. The starting point for the new tool are the guidelines issued in the end of this summer „Public Participation and Disclosure of Environmental Information“.
The new tool, so called „ participation check“, explores how well the participation process was planned and carried out via 14 criteria. Different aspects of public participation are addressed, e.g. planning of public participation, informing the public, giving reasonable deadlines to participate and providing easy access to the information.
The first project evaluated is the choice of location for the Rail Baltic high-speed rail link in Estonia. Regretfully, this mega-project that will most probably have the most significant environmental impacts in the coming decades scored only 2,6 on a five-point scale.
In 2015, the EELC will test the new tool on several projects as part of a pilot phase. Based on the experience gained as well as feedback, we will further elaborate and polish the methodology. Hopefully the new tool will become a benchmark methodology that can be used in the future by both the officials as well as the general public for improving public participation opportunities.If you are interested in the new tool or have ideas how to improve it, don’t hesitate to contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.