If you're investing in infrastructure projects where there's a good chance they'll meet local resistance, you need to make sure the developers you're backing invest in the best stakeholder engagement.
All forms of infrastructure development are largely speculative, with no guarantees of success.
When the infrastructure being developed is the kind that often gets labelled as being 'controversial', then the chances of acheiving a successful planning outcome at a local level can be reduced even further, increasing investment risk.
Most major new infrastructure, from onshore wind and solar farms to waste processing facilities, is funded by banks and investors - both private and institutional.
If that's you and your business, you need to insist that the developers you're investing in do stakeholder engagement and community relations properly in order to protect your capital and improve your chances of a return.
When it comes to controversial yet critical infrastructure projects, local sentiment can quickly turn against a proposal if the potentially affected communities don't feel as though they're being properly informed, listened to or having their concerns addressed - and pre-application public consultation is a 'material planning consideration' that will be taken into account by decision-makers.
That sense of disenfranchisement among community members often also then manifests in a higher number of objections being submitted to the local planning authority, and decision-makers will attach a good degree of weight to them where large numbers of objections are received.
Consultation that's perceived to be inadequate, coupled with high numbers of objections, is a recipe for local refusal of planning consent. If the proposal is withdrawn, all the expenditure on planning applications and any associated Environmental Impact Assessments and environmental permit applications will have been wasted. Appealling a refusal adds more cost, with only a 30% chance of success.
Investing in the best stakeholder engagement at the outset may seem like a cost than could be avoided, but if it helps to improve the chances of successfully securing planning consent locally, safeguarding your capital at risk and swerving the need for an expensive appeal, it's an investment worth making.
Don't let the developers you're funding try to scrimp on stakeholder engagement, insist on the best there is to protect your investment and maximise your chances of a return.