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Best Practice for Public Consultation on Infrastructural Projects

Infrastructural projects are some of the most demanding and complicated projects to deliver successfully. Of course, success can mean more than just on-time and on a budget, it should also deliver for stakeholders who are affected by the work, particularly the general public. With this in mind, we have assembled some points of best practice for infrastructural projects that will help to deliver successful public consultation with these stakeholders.

Our list is based on the feedback from our clients but we would be happy to hear from you with your suggestions, just use the chat box below for your comments.

1. Develop your schedule of works. With a clear roadmap from planning to completion, you should be able to see where consultation rounds will fit into your overall framework.

2. Tie public consultation rounds to this schedule. There is no point in doing public consultation if you cannot implement anything based on the feedback. Consultation feedback needs to be assessed and recommendations should be available to all the project stakeholders before individual stages of the project take place.

3. Ensure data security from the outset. Data protection of the general public is a high priority and it is not acceptable to take personal information from people in pen and paper format without a security chain and protocols in place. Use a secure digital format for public consultation work if possible and use opt-ins or e-signatures to protect the public and yourself.

4. Open up the lines of communication both ways. Consultation should be a two-way street, so try to open up channels for stakeholders to contact the project team directly. Also, try to create dialogue structures with individual stakeholders and the public rather than just survey answers.

5. Invite all stakeholders to increase visibility into the project. Stakeholders include any organization or body involved in the project, as well as members of the public who are affected by the project. In terms of coherent project management, it is important to include all the organizational stakeholders into the project management system. This allows them visibility into the feedback coming from all sources and into the scheduling of public consultation work.

6. Ensure the integrity of the consultation data. Consultation data should include elements like timestamps, the project team member doing the consultation, as well as documentary records. These elements all contribute to the integrity of the consultation data and the compliance of the project as a whole. Ensuring this data integrity will help greatly in the event that there is a subsequent challenge to the project from a member of the public or a stakeholder organization.

7. Use professional services. It should always be stressed that professional services, from research consultants, to project managers, through to software systems for managing the consultations themselves are hugely important. Invest in the right professionals and tools from the outset to save yourself the trouble in the long run.

We hope these tips help. Infrastructure projects are high on governments’ agendas, and the infrastructure development and investment pipeline is huge so it’s critical that you approach these consultations with significant knowledge and awareness. Good luck and let us know if we can help further!

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