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The passing of a freight train is a rattle for two minutes, but, unlike highway noise, it's then over.

Do I have to point out that the highway will usually be somewhere else? And of course those people own a car but not a train, let alone a freight train.

That said, for the problem of getting acceptance of public construction, this is good news. It has shown that the population at large doesn't suffer from NIMBYism that much.

Germany has introduced extensive legal recourses for the protection of the individual.Just as predictable this system is abused as a political tool. This doesn't work. You cannot give some people a little voice in such decisions. Either you give the government near absolute power to ram such things through (French style) or you have a public vote. There is no working compromise.

by oliver on Mon Nov 28th, 2011 at 08:39:06 AM EST
France is actually more democratic i.e. transparent about projects. All project documents are open to the public and they have good outcomes. Compare that to S21 where backdoor channels had to be used so that some people could read S21's technical documentation. The usual background NIMBYism aside, the biggest abusers of the system are the politicos who want to see their ego projects built.

Schengen is toast!
by epochepoque on Wed Nov 30th, 2011 at 01:16:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
More transparent yes, but whether it's more democratic, I would like to know more about that. From what I know, in France, public consultations are held as prerequisites for something called the Declaration of Public Utility, the essence of which is the right for projects to expropiate people and limit possibilities for litigation. Again from what I heard, a key difference relative to the German process is that the consultation is purely informative, complainers can't effect injuctions or have a veto like (in theory) communes do in Germany.

Beyond the legal framework, what should count is the attitude of project owners/the government. In Germany, the traditional attitude of DB in particular is, beyond lack of transparency, to stick to original plans with minimal modifications and play for time, and communes rarely achieve more with injuctions than delays. I wonder how that goes in France, because I haven't read of local protests there, which can be either due to my not reading of sources that cover those, or due to a less developed culture of public protest and local authority insubordination, or due to a more flexible approach on the part of RFF and other project owners.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Nov 30th, 2011 at 09:19:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The French Enquête d'Utilité Publique is generally (if not always) a stitch-up. It is open to all members of the public, but you may only make observations, propose data... And you cannot relate the object of the enquiry to any larger scheme (such as the ecology of the region).

I'll post some more later, have to go now.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Nov 30th, 2011 at 12:23:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Given that opponents cannot link the proposal to any other, or any larger scheme of things, it's obviously in the interest of promoters (whoever they may be, private or public or both in bed with each other) to chop their projects up into smaller bits. This is called saucissonnage in French.

A local example is in the continued and long-to-continue rape of the pebble and gravel range I live on. This is deep and high-quality in terms of "noble" aggregates for construction and public works. The extractive industries lobbied successfully to get a dispensation from the normal regulation, and began putting in projects they'd been buying up land for for some years. Several companies each put in several extraction projects. Each project had its own enquiry. You could not even state that other projects existed all around the one the commissioner was dealing with (generally the same commissioner as the other enquiries). You could not bring evidence on the total destructive impact on the aquifer of nearly 1,000 hectares of gravel pits. You could not talk about the (long-term) pollution of the aquifer spreading to the river close by, and about the drinking water supply of a major city downstream. You could not talk about the creation of a new micro-climate (because of the considerable water surface) for the local area. You could not complain about the quasi-privatisation of previously public goods, like the trunk road south through the gravel pits. You could not make the general point that this massive extraction was unnecessary, and was based on projections for the 50-year growth of the suburbs of said major city that were in fact the extractive, construction and public works industries' wishful (but probably self-fulfilling) projections.

All projects sailed through the "Public Utility" enquiries. Except one or two that encroached on the zone TPTB are reserving for maybe an airport one day.

So fake transparent, fake democratic.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Nov 30th, 2011 at 03:38:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I found an interesting article on the TGV Med (warning: horrible English) with details of how things went for that project. Here massive and at times violent protests by both civilians and local politicians were triggered by the disclosure of SNCF's detailed plan at the end of 1989, as the plan did not include alternative routes. The protests were enough to force SNCF to propose alternatives, which in turn expanded the affected areas and thus the protest. The story includes the dropping of a route option at the behest of President Mitterrand, for the benefit of some rich friends who were concerned about their vineyards, a move that further angered protesters. The state then cooled the situation by taking over the choice of the preferred route (still in 1990) and by setting up an "expert body" to review SNCF's plans and replies to criticism from the protesters and commission "independent" studies (1992). These were ad-hoc measures, the proper public consultation (Public Utility Inquiry) started only after that (October 1992), and was still boycotted by some communities. In another ad-hoc measure, the government organised an overseeing of this process, too, and plans did change during the 18-month consultation, not just in the routing but also in noise and water protection specifications.

I wonder how many of the lessons learned were made regular practice and have been/will be used for the newer lines like LGV SEA.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Nov 30th, 2011 at 01:44:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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