10 April 2017
Many new energy projects are supported and incentivised by national and regional governments, but meet with considerable opposition from the public due to safety, planning and environmental concerns. From fracking to wind farms, stakeholders must consider how best to secure buy-in from local communities to ensure that resistance does not delay crucial projects – or even scupper them altogether.
What types of energy project prove most contentious in your jurisdiction and why?
Despite being in an early stage of development, oil and gas projects are the most contentious type of energy project in Cyprus due to public concerns about health, safety and environmental impact.
Have any energy projects been delayed or frustrated in your jurisdiction following successful public opposition? If so, what lessons can be learned for future projects?
To date, there has been only one instance in which an energy project was subject to public opposition. Specifically, this example concerned the temporary operation of a company providing logistics for hydrocarbon exploration at Larnaka Port. Local residents expressed deep concerns about possible health and environmental issues. The opposition of residents did not delay the project, but it did result in delays to its completion. Residents feared that the port would become an industrial hub and thus put their health and the environment at risk. Conversely, workers held a protest in favour of the project to protect their jobs.
The most important lesson learned was the need for education. Local decision makers and the local community must be informed that their health and the environment are not in danger and that there is therefore no reason to oppose such energy projects.
Who should have standing to oppose new energy projects? Only parties that are directly affected, such as local communities, or also parties that are indirectly affected, such as environmental organisations?
The Department of Labour Inspection and the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and the Environment should have standing to oppose new energy projects.
What steps can government and stakeholders in your jurisdiction take to overturn successful public opposition to new energy projects?
Governments and stakeholders should focus on educating local decision makers and the local community. Only through education will successful public opposition to new energy projects be overturned.
What strategies can governments and stakeholders adopt to promote local support, improve community engagement and better inform local communities of the potential benefits of new energy?
First, they can provide employment to local people. Education should also be provided at all levels – from primary to higher education through learning experiences (ie, local and EU projects raising awareness and engaging students). Governments and stakeholders also need to highlight the benefits of establishing energy projects (eg, reducing unemployment, fostering local and national economic growth and attracting investment). The information can be disseminated in various formats, such as talks, seminars, workshops, printed materials, online or via social media.
For further information on this topic please contact Despina Glyki at George Y Yiangou LLC by telephone (+357 22 767 630) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org). The George Y Yiangou LLC website can be accessed at www.yiangou.com.cy.
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