How to Counter Public Opposition to Development Projects

Association of Construction and Development
March 4, 2013 — 1,962 views  

Development projects often face public opposition in the form of NIMBY, which stands for ‘Not in my back yard’ protests. Such oppositions are by groups, either small or large, that come together to stop a development project.

Very often, such protests are successful, and the result is distressing for the developers because it could translate into delays or sometimes even lead the project being shut down. The motivation for such opposition could be diverse, but such groups are known to organize themselves very fast in order to express their opposition towards a project.

The NIMBYism has becoming so popular that locations worldwide are affected by it. Right from Tokyo to New York, development projects are attacked by many groups and individuals. The industries that suffer because of this include real estate; wind power, alternative energy, energy transmission, and nuclear power. In order to get projects approved, various approaches are used, which have been discussed below.

Talk to Supporters

One of the most ideal way to counter opposition is to find and the mobilize allies that are for the development project. If you can prove that most of the citizens support your proposal, other people will avoid or have to stop opposing your plan. People in the middle or leaders of the community will also favor the project if they feel that’s was a large percentage of the people are doing.

Understand Opposition

Once you have finished recruiting and putting your supporters into action, it is time to reach out to your opponent. Understanding the main causes behind the opposition is the main way to minimize it.

The most common reasons for opposition have been narrowed down to four causes, namely emotional needs, conflicts of interest, misinformation, and conflicts of values. The intensity and nature of the outreach will depend on which of these four reasons the objection is pertaining to.

People are often misguided or have misperceptions that are brought about by rumors about the project. Effectively communicating and making the opposition realize your plan may help in doing away with them.

Any misinformation that they may have should be corrected. Ensuring that the right facts are known to all has often helped several development projects to move forward. Sometimes, community leaders may oppose a developmental plan just to feel like they are a part of any changes in the region and to uphold their status. Understanding the emotional needs of the opponent and meeting them is the most inexpensive way to getting your project approved.

Negotiate and Concentrate On Mutual Interests

People often oppose development because they are afraid of change and assume it will cause trouble of some sort. Sitting down, laying out the details of the development and bringing its advantages to light could do a lot for countering public opposition.

Look for things that could benefit both you and the opposition, then make these known and discuss them together. Focus on values that you hold which are similar to that of the community, as this will foster a better relationship. 

Association of Construction and Development