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Are agencies turning a blind eye to public access to environmental assessment information?

Odparlik, Lisa Friederike

FG UmweltprĂĽfung und Umweltplanung

For environmental assessments (strategic environmental assessment (SEA) and environmental impact assessment (EIA)) a wide range of data and documents is gathered, processed, and produced. In planning theory, this information is viewed to have a transformative function: It can affect perceptions in advance of a decision, thereby impacting the planning process at all levels and stages. The role of this information in supporting transparent public participation is often neglected. This paper analyses the current implementation of legal requirements providing access to information on environmental assessments (EAs) in Germany's electricity grid expansion and federal road planning sectors, using a criteria based case study analysis of agency websites. The 92 analysed websites primarily provide general planning information, technical information, and final decisions. One third of the websites provided EA documents, and show a clear need for improvement in information provision about and in support of public participation.