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Success of infrastructure projects depends on society’s involvement in decision-making

The biggest challenge in developing the engineering infrastructure is to find a suitable place for it so that the infrastructure is acceptable to people living in its vicinity, adapted to the existing infrastructure and environmentally-friendly. This issue involving a complex process of adjusting the interests of all – residents who currently live in the area of an infrastructure and those who will live there – was discussed at a conference “Spatial planning for the engineering infrastructure: experience and future challenges”. At the conference, the representatives of engineering infrastructure companies as well as experts and specialists of regulating institutions shared their experience.
“Before developing a new infrastructure it is vital to get the approval of all people living in its vicinity and take into account the environmental impact and other infrastructure objects. The process of spatial planning involves the coordination of all different interests. To make this process successful it is necessary that all interested parties start cooperating in the early stage of a development project and try to find the best solution,” director of Litgrid’s Strategic Infrastructure Department Karolis Sankovski stated at the conference which was organised by Litgrid.
Litgrid simultaneously implemented two complex infrastructure projects – power interconnections NordBalt and LitPol Link. As Mr Sankovski pointed out, the planning stage is the most important part in the implementation of projects of such scale because the successful implementation of a project and the harmonisation of an infrastructure with the environment depend on the decisions taken during the planning stage.
The conference also discussed the issue of how to harmonise a public interest related to a developed infrastructure with another public interest – residents living in the vicinity of that infrastructure.
“When implementing infrastructure projects of strategic importance we should not forget what purpose an infrastructure will serve. It is intended to serve the public, so the members of the public must be interested to participate and get involved in a project planning process in due time and in an appropriate way,” said Mr Sankovski.
The participants of the conference expressed a view that the level of a community’s involvement also depends on the community’s activity: during a spatial planning process the public is encouraged to provide observations and proposals for open consideration. It is also admitted that detail information, introducing projects to society at the early stage as well as an open and comprehensive discussion are essential for understanding and accepting the challenges related to the implementation of projects.
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