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Case Studies in Airport/Stakeholder Communication 65 Provide Appropriate Leadership An airport's senior leadership must be highly visible in the process, not only to lead the culture change toward two-way involvement, but also to best represent the airport's issues and needs to the community. Need for Assessment Tools Airports spend substantial sums of money for public information, public relations, noise staff, and programs. As they feel the pressure from the community and from industry trends to do more, they badly need a mechanism to determine what public involvement and public informa- tion approaches have a real impact and are most cost effective. Incorporate Dynamic Two-way Communication Effective engagement with the public leads to understanding, stronger relationships, and greater compatibility between the transportation source and the community. This is a major lesson not only for surface transportation, but also for air transportation. Best Practices in the Environmental Industry: Stakeholder Involvement & Public Participation by the U.S. EPA (15 ) The EPA represents another large governmental agency that has learned a difficult lesson about public involvement. Though the range of environmental issues the EPA addresses is much broader than just noise, the level of public concern and the intensity of disagreements can be similar to that experienced by airports. The EPA began operation in 1970 and increased its efforts into this century to involve the public "by giving citizens, industry, environmental groups, and academics a much greater opportunity to play key roles in environmental decision making." (15, p. iii) The report is based on a review of EPA efforts to review stakeholder involvement and pub- lic participation approaches and identify lessons learned. The paper also has recommendations for future EPA projects, but it is the lessons learned that are most directly applicable to airports and will be the focus of this review. Study Findings Because the best practices paper had many succinct summary statements, this review quotes a series of lessons learned directly from the report. Lessons Learned: Establishing Trust Is Integral Trust between EPA and the public is a crucial component of any stakeholder involvement or public participation initiative in order to ensure an effective working relationship. (15, p. 4) Lessons Learned: Credible Data and Technical Assistance Can Be Critical Credible sources of information can serve a very important role in solving conflicts with stakeholders and the public. Without a concerted effort to ensure reliable, trustworthy data, the stakeholder process may prove frustrating for all participants involved. (15, p. 5) Lessons Learned: Recognize the Links between Environmental, Economic, and Social Concerns By working harder to integrate social, economic, and even cultural concerns of the community, EPA can enhance trust between industry stakeholders and the community. . . . (15, p. 6)

OCR for page 65
66 Aircraft Noise: A Toolkit for Managing Community Expectations Lessons Learned: Successful Stakeholder Involvement and Public Participation Activities Require That Agency Staff Receive Training or Expert Assistance A variety of skills and techniques in addition to adequate background knowledge are a must if the ini- tiative is to be successful. (15, p. 6) Other areas in which staff involved in public participation and stakeholder involvement activities could benefit from training include: listening and communication, partnering, process management, negotia- tion, consensus-building, vision-building, cross-cutting analysis, and multi-media approaches to envi- ronmental protection. (15, p. 6) Lessons Learned: Several Factors May Limit Participation Factors limiting the willingness or ability of citizens to participate in public involvement activities include: "Inadequate explanations of background and technical material Difficulty participating in technical discussions Inadequate minutes from meetings Overwhelming amounts of reading Perceived inability to influence issues Lack of time to participate" (15, p. 7) Lessons Learned: Improving Stakeholder Negotiations "Clarify the type of process to be used, what the goals will be, and what the process can and can't accomplish Educate stakeholders on both the process and technical issues Use a trained facilitator throughout the negotiation don't wait until troubles emerge Plan agency involvement carefully high-level participation is critical Include a full diversity of stakeholders" (15, p. 8) Lessons Learned: Building Better Partnerships "Establish clear visions, goals, and action items Encourage a vision that everyone can accept Develop a shared context of meaning for stakeholders in partnerships with ambiguous goals Closely involve local stakeholders Ensure that partnership goals, activities, and results will be effectively used" (15, p. 9) Lessons Learned: Community Outreach "Know your audience Hold meetings at times convenient for community members Work hard to engage those community members not immediately receptive to your message Use websites to complement, rather than replace" (15, p. 9) Lessons Learned: Effectively Involving the Public in Agency Decisions "Get the public involved early Ensure that public meetings and hearings allow public's concerns to be adequately addressed Clearly explain how public input will be used Give public adequate explanations if their input is rejected Re-double efforts to involve the public in Agency decision making if public participation is low" (15, p. 10)