GRI 102-29, GRI 102-43, GRI 102-44, GRI 413-1, GRI EUS Stakeholder Participation
When planning and implementing grid expansion projects, 50Hertz ensures that it adopts a participatory approach, undertaking regular discussions with stakeholders. This is because the involvement of relevant stakeholders plays an important role in sustainable grid expansion. Regional and local stakeholder groups are identified alongside any issues, questions and fears they might have regarding projects in their area. This allows a participation roadmap to be developed and implemented with stakeholders from the area; this roadmap is aligned with sound early public participation standards and with project-specific aspects. This is because the information and participation needs of citizens vary across the regions where existing lines are reinforced or new substations and lines are being built. 50Hertz would like to take its participatory approach one step further by inviting stakeholders to discussions held in the areas where they live. It is only in this way that the organisation will be able to further improve its planning activities: such discussions will allow the organisation to take local knowledge on board and turn affected parties into participating parties.
Discussions with relevant stakeholders start at a very early stage in the project planning process. Stakeholders are asked to provide their feedback on 50Hertz’z grid development plan and on its grid reinforcement and expansion projects. Such stakeholder engagement takes place according to clearly defined specifications, which specify the format they must embody.
‘The COVID-19 pandemic showed us that we can also work well through digital channels with all our project partners, such as the authorities, nature conservation organisations and service providers. We were able to keep the SuedOstLink project on schedule despite the challenging conditions.’
Throughout the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the company adapted the channels it used in line with the measures that were being enforced: virtual communication channels were employed and an additional space for exchange with mayors, residents and organisation representatives was created in telephone consultation hours previously announced in the local press, which was actively used. Furthermore, digital communication channels and tools which facilitate citizen participation were explored and employed, enabling the company to maintain regular contact with existing stakeholders and reach new ones. Against this backdrop, the company’s website was evaluated in terms of its user-friendliness and the behaviour it encouraged in new users; the structure and design of the information it held was then adapted and improved in line with the findings. During the reporting year, early public participation was also used for construction activities, such as ecological construction monitoring.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, information tours which had been planned with the DialogMobil (a vehicle which is equipped with information material about our projects) had to be postponed during the first half of 2021. The first tour, which comprised eight stops and related to the Südharz grid connection, was started at the end of June. Further information tours relating to the Mecklar-Vieselbach, SüdOstLink, Güstrow-Parchim-Süd-Perleberg and Hansa PowerBridge projects were then undertaken.