Local ways of preservation

  • 29/09/1993

Local ways of preservation Denmark's fourth-largest city, Alborg, has groundwater so pure it can be pumped directly into homes. But the supply from the Drastrup underground reserve is threatened by contamination and local officials are trying to solve this problem by encouraging users of the land to change their ways.

Drastrup authorities did this by preparing a map in consultation with farmers detailing where extraction from the land is permitted and choice of crops, fertilisers and farming practices to prevent contamination.

So successful have these efforts been, county authorities say they can guarantee clean water supply to Alborg from Drastrup upto the middle of the next century.

The NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) factor -- the nemesis of "dirty" projects -- has made regional planning essential so that such projects can be sited in a way that exploits their employment potential, but minimises their harmful environment potential.

This approach was successfully used three years ago in Denmark when establishing a 100-ha solid waste disposal site in Raerup, within Alborg municipality. Public hearings were held, including one session during which planners used colored helium balloons to help the public visualise the proposed facility in relation to surrounding structures.

Because Denmark has strong and constant winds, a renewable energy programme was begun in the 1980s requiring electric utilities to construct windmill parks with a total capacity of 100 MW.

Windmill construction has long been a subsidised programme in Denmark but as windmills were distributed fairly evenly throughout the country they were not perceived as a problem. Ensuring windmills are sited so that the landscape is preserved in Denmark's largest windmill park in the municipality of Ringkobing, involved considerable planning by local and regional authorities, a quasi-public electric utility and a local windmill manufacturer.

They evolved an acceptable local plan, clearly showing where the park would be sited, the location of each of the park's 100 windmills and what their appearance would be within the total landscape.

A Danish Building Research Institute survey offers convincing proof that local democracy is alive and well, but at times needs a strong push to get the public involved.

The survey, conducted in Ringsted municipality in 1978-82, sought to determine the efficacy of public participation in local planning. It showed about 3 per cent of Ringsted's inhabitants took an active role in planning, including soliciting support for it. Public meetings held to discuss local issues drew about 15 per cent of Ringsted's inhabitants and about 60 per cent of them had read all the available informational material.

Yet, institute staff interviews of about 90 per cent of Ringsted's residents disclosed all of them had very definite opinions about local project proposals, but most did not think it worthwhile to express them publicly.

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