The reasons why different people object to infrastructure developments

Different people react to proposed new infrastructure near them (or things that matter to them) in different ways. Those that object do so for a variety of reasons.

 

For residents living near proposed new infrastructure, a natural resistance to change will initially be behind their first impressions. As they take the time to find out more about your plans, they'll start to develop concerns about potential impacts on their health, wealth and happiness - and will conduct their own assessment of risk vs personal and community benefit. At this point, they will have made-up their minds about whether it's something they can accept or if it's something they feel motivated to object to. If they decide to object, it will mostly be because of the changes your plans will introduce and their perception of any risks.

Objection among the nearest residents can differ also according to how long they've lived in the area. It is not uncommon to find people that have recently moved to an area being the most vociferous opponents of proposed new development - and that's because it doesn't fit with the things that first attracted them to the place or their preconceptions of what it's going to be like to live there. This is especially evident with people that retire to a particular area.

Others will potentially oppose your plans because of a personal vested interest - they may, for instance, own investment properties nearby and wish to protect their investments from perceived negative impacts.

Another reason some people might object to your scheme is because it's genuinely not right for that location in the proposed form, but could be made more suitable with help from the community itself.

Then there are those that may, in truth, have no strong opinion either way but that through peer pressure might feel they should object to your proposals as well - the 'herd' mentality.

Finally, there are those who's principal motivation is either politically or ideologically based - or both. These might be anti-fossil fuel, for instance, and so will oppose all forms of energy extraction on principle rather than the specifics of a particular development.

So, how is this useful to you if you're seeking to bring forward plans to develop new infrastructure in someone's community?

Well, because it can help you to formulate your overall engagement strategy and how you plan to communicate with the various groups of opposition voices.

For example, you'll want to invest more resource into working with people and groups that have genuine concerns and that are amenable to working with you collaboratively to try and find compromises that both you and the community can each live with. Conversely, there is little to no point trying to engage with people and groups that are politically or ideologically opposed to your plans.

Remember, however, that stakeholder groups and communities are far from homogenous and so this sort of segmentation can only ever be a guide, and should be used in conjunction with other methods.

Nonetheless, it helps to understand people's motivations for opposing your controversial yet critical infrastructure plans as part of your stakeholder mapping.