“Watt” do people think? Germany’s green-energy revolution and Schleswig-Holstein’s largest ever public consultation

“Watt” do people think? Germany’s green-energy revolution and Schleswig-Holstein’s largest ever public consultation

In Germany’s northernmost state, Schleswig-Holstein, people usually associate the word “watt” with the expansive mud flats along its North Sea coast, the Wattenmeer. But thanks to its position between the North Sea to the west and the Baltic to the east, Schleswig-Holstein has huge expanses of land and water – meaning a LOT of wind, and a huge potential for watts of a very different kind.

Schleswig-Holstein and the German green-energy revolution

Thanks to the German green-energy revolution, this windy state of seals, seafarers and shepherds has become an important source of electricity. As nuclear reactors are phased out, the race to replace has pushed renewable energy ever further up Germany’s agenda.

Public resistance

At the same time, installing wind turbines is a thorny issue that causes resistance from people nearby. From those who dislike the sight of them, to people who resent the interminable whining of their huge paddles, via others fearing their property will drastically drop in value: the potential for resentment is undeniable.

Draft regional plans published

Last week, Schleswig-Holstein’s First Minister, Torsten Albig, announced his cabinet’s draft regional plans for wind energy. The plans aim to increase the output from the current 6.5 GW to 10 GW while reducing the impact of existing and future wind-power generation on people and nature. The plans define so-called “priority areas”: any existing turbines outside these areas will be retired once they reach their end of life, and any new ones will only be permitted within them. But there will be an increase in the number of turbines by 400-500, resulting in a total of 3,600. Where will they go?

Digital first: Schleswig-Holstein’s largest ever consultation

In recognition of both the importance of this topic, and the potential for disruption through discontent, Mr Albig announced the state’s largest ever public consultation. “None of this is set in stone,” he said.

The first phase has begun, with all information available online using our DEMOS-Plan software.

Alongside the text documents, all existing wind turbines and planned priority areas are visualised on an interactive map that pulls in geographic data and other data provided by the state government. From 27th December until the end of June 2017, citizens and stakeholder organisations will be able to make their submissions online.

Offline consultations are planned from mid-February, also continuing until the end of June 2017. Documents will be publicly available in all public offices at all levels of government across the state – a huge undertaking.

DEMOS-Plan – tried and tested

For several years now, councils within Schleswig-Holstein have been using the award-winning software platform DEMOS-Plan for spatial-planning consultations, allowing them to provide detailed information and invite submissions from individual citizens and representatives of stakeholder organisations. The advanced integration into official geo maps services is both efficient for the consulting body and convenient for participants, especially in rural areas.

Spatial planning consultations in your country

We’re really happy to see that the consultation process is “digital first”, and to make our contribution to a project that is central to Germany’s future as a green-energy leader. We’d love to start a discussion with you about spatial-planning consultations in your country, and how DEMOS-Plan could help make them more convenient for citizens and stakeholder organisations, and more efficient for public bodies.

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