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Post-event measures: Respecting differentcommunity interests

To address conflicts of interest that inevitably arise when flood protection is an issue, people living in communities should be included in discussions, and ways should be sought to allow them to play a part. In Germany, the approval procedure for construction, the ‘Planfeststellungsverfahren’ – (the consultation process), is anchored in German law. It requires large construction projects to take into account all relevant issues, as well as interest groups that could be affected by a particular project. The procedure allows citizens to demand explanations and at times even to halt projects. Such was the case in the German town of Grimma, where citizens opposed a flood protection wall that blocked their view, or in Mu¨hlbeck, where property owners close to a levee blocked an upgrade. People in the community and those affected by projects need to be involved in the planning and design and have a say in how projects are carried out. In Germany, based on the legislative process, and depending on how controversial a project is, the consultation period may require several years. To succeed, authorities need to draw on prior experience and get sufficient ‘buy-in’ from the communities, which should ultimately benefit from the project. However, the time these projects may need to go through all the proper channels means it can often be the case that the next flood strikes before the projects under consideration are completed. Some other countries take a different approach. They involve citizens in the early stages of planning, including them in the overall process instead of waiting until a project is already well advanced before soliciting comments and potential objections. New approaches are needed to expedite projects and make them more effective. Otherwise, the next major flood will occur before critically important projects can be completed or even started

PERC Reports