Resolution of environmental conflicts by neighbourhood dialogue

2005 - 2010


Project description and aims

This project consist of four phases, carried out between 2005 and 2010.

Neighourhood dialogues prevent, manage and resolve conflicts effectively and efficiently by building up trust, by looking for win-win solutions and by creating sustainable good neighbourhood relations. Their goal is to share information openly, to develop recommendations for the company and sometimes even to cooperate and negotiate to agree on a solution.

Experience has shown that this systematic communication approach leads to results which can improve the environmental situation and often result in a better environmental performance of the site than could be required by legislation. Of course, dialogues and their results have to comply with the law and they can only complement, not replace, the usual responsibilities of authorities and legislation.

Phase I

The focus of the project was on existing sites with neighbourhood complaints where a dialogue process was used as a voluntary instrument to try and resolve the conflict. Neighbourhood complaints and conflicts often occur near sites such as industrial production facilities, waste management sites and quarries because of their emissions or potential dangers including health risks. Sites built near inhabited areas or that have become surrounded by residential areas are especially affected. Conflicts can focus on concerns about odours, noise, air pollution, accidents, operation disorders or new permit conditions and procedures.

Phase II – The toolkit

The focus of the project was on developing a toolkit for authorities and companies on how to establish a neighbourhood dialogue. The toolkit contains detailed information on when, why and how to use neighbourhood dialogues. It answers key questions, e.g. about areas of application or core principles, and supports the reader with six steps how to establish a neighbourhood dialogue. It outlines opportunities and gives support in convincing all dialogue partners – while also, however, it is also explaining risks, boundaries and how to overcome difficulties. It also indicates when it is better not to use dialogue and rely on traditional instruments to regulate a site, e.g. to prevent significant health and environmental risks.

Phase III – Self evaluation

The main objective of phase III was to develop a guideline for authorities and companies on how to evaluate their neighbourhood dialogues and to estimate the workload.

Phase IV – Step-by-step instructions

The focus of this last phase of the project was to promote the use of neighbourhood dialogues as an instrument for the solution of environmental conflicts by developing concise step-by-step instructions based on the “Toolkit” and the “Self-Evaluation Guidelines” and testing them on live cases.

The main outcome of the project is the PowerPoint presentation “Neighbourhood dialogue an instrument to prevent and solve conflicts between companies and their neighbours – procedures – steps – evaluation”.


Number: 2005/05 - 2006/18 - 2007/01 - 2009/01 - 2010/04 – Status: Completed – Period: 2005 - 2010 – Topic: Cross-cutting tools and approaches - Tags:

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