Construction

Project stage description: 

The Construction stage is the penultimate stage of the project, during which the actual construction activities take place.

In terms of good communication processes between project developers and Adjacent Communities, this stage is relatively important since it is the first “visible” one. There is therefore a need to adapt communication to the particularities of this project stage. 

Depending on the project’s size and complexity, the Construction stage can last between six months and three years, or even longer.

A key feature of the Construction stage is that it has strong, direct impact on local stakeholders like Land owners or Adjacent communities. Content-wise, messages related to project benefits, timetable and Compensation measures are amongst the most important to communicate.

Typical channels of communication include both global communications means like a Project website or Social media, and local communication means such as Field visits, local media or a Citizens helpline.

Stakeholders involved in this stage: 
Usual patterns: 

The TSO is typically the head of public works operations for a grid project, and oversees all aspects of construction and of communication surrounding construction. As in any public works Construction stage, adverse effects like noise pollution can occur as well as delays due to unforeseen events. It is the responsibility of the TSO during this stage to address adverse effects and delays and carry out appropriate communication during the most critical moments.

Further project-specific questions: 
  • How long does the project last precisely?

  • Which are the adverse effects that are likely to occur during the construction of the project?

Usual patterns: 

NGOs may continue to be involved in this project stage, and to monitor the environmental impacts of construction. NGOs may be helpful in alerting TSOs to unforeseen environmental impacts. 

Further project-specific questions: 
  • How can communication with NGOs be maintained during this phase regarding the specific project?

Usual patterns: 

In communicating with the directly affected local stakeholders during the Construction stage, an emphasis should be put on local impacts and considerations – hence the project developers, especially the TSO, has to pay special attention to:

  • Local nuisances resulting from construction works. These should be reduced to a minimum and accompanied keeping the affected stakeholders informed about duration and likely degree of local nuisances.
  • Security at work. This has certainly become one major requirement of any project of public works today. Any negligence in security at work during the Construction stage may turn the public opinion against the whole project.
Further project-specific questions: 
  • Are land owners and members of the adjacent communities likely to be most affected during the construction stage?

Usual patterns: 

These stakeholders typically have a more important role at earlier stages of the project. Although less directly impacted by construction, they may still wish to be informed of project progress. The TSO should therefore continue to ensure transparent communication with these stakeholders, providing regular updates on the construction works. In addition to this, the TSO should listen to any stakeholder group which may take an active interest in the project during this phase and may have something to contribute.

Further project-specific questions: 
  • Which non-local stakeholders are likely to be most interested in information on the Construction stage of the specific project?

Typical channels to use in communication: 
Usual patterns: 

During this most visible phase of the project, the TSO may wish to use large-scale communication means like a Project website that is regularly updated with news on the project’s progress. Even if the Project website can be used throughout the whole duration of the project, it is especially useful after Permitting stage, as the project gets even more public recognition. 

Further project-specific questions: 
  • Do the project developers have the resources to regularly provide updated news on the construction progress via their website?

Usual patterns: 

Due to the strong local impact during the Construction stage, local means of communication are highly important. Organising Field visits for a group of local citizens, providing interviews of TSO representatives to local newspapers or establishing a helpline dedicated to citizens’ concerns related to construction helps to foster trust. The helpline for instance should be kept open during the whole Construction stage.

Local and national communication strategies have to be designed consistently. For example, on-site advertisement boards could bear mentions of further means for the information of stakeholders, such as the Project website or the Citizens helpline. This can eliminate frustration due to any feeling that information might be too scarce. 

Further project-specific questions: 
  • Do the project developers have a mailing list of important local stakeholders?    

  • Does a Citizens helpline already exist? Are its operators briefed to deal with problems relating to construction?

Essential content communicated: 
Usual patterns: 

Project benefits should come as a reminder in this stage of the project, with long-term project benefits helping to balance all short-term impacts of construction works (local nuisances). 

In case of a bigger project, any study demonstrating the public interest of enhancing grid infrastructure could be useful. In any case, the use of direct, “facts & figures” content should be favoured. 

Further project-specific questions: 
  • Have any benefits of the project been challenged at the earlier stages? 

  • Which short-term, local impacts can be included in the communicated messages?

Usual patterns: 

One key piece of information to deliver to local citizens and other stakeholders is how long the Construction stage will last. 

The Project timetable would also allow the TSO to remind the public of the work done in the previous stages, including consultations, assessments, etc. 

Above all, the use of a very clear timetable is an opportunity to underline that the Construction stage will not last forever and manage expectation from the affected stakeholders.

Further project-specific questions: 
  • How can timetables be amended and re-communicated in case of delays?

Usual patterns: 

The construction sites should always bear a clear indication of who is responsible for the construction and who needs to be addressed in case of questions, doubts or concerns. 

Further project-specific questions: 
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Usual patterns: 

If there are any, the TSO can highlight social and ecological efforts it is or will be doing in the course of this specific project.

If any negative impact is being caused to the local environment during the Construction stage, the TSO should explain which compensation or mitigation measures have been taken. In this regard, biodiversity is certainly one major concern (above all for Environmental NGOs).

Finally, the TSO should make it clear when financial compensations will be transferred to stakeholders entitled to them (above all Land owners). Even if the money can be transferred to owners as soon as the Permitting stage, the Construction stage is generally considered as particularly appropriate for doing so.

Further project-specific questions: 
  • Does the TSO own a foundation, which could contribute to social progress or Compensation measures? Can the TSO contribute in another way? 

  • Have specific Compensation measures been negotiated earlier in the project?