Public consultation on the N/M20 project took place between November and February
OVER 40,000 individual interactions from members of the public and other stakeholders have been recorded by the project team working the N/M20 project.
The consultation process which took place over a number of months generated unprecedented levels of public engagement - despite the pandemic.
Public health restrictions saw a new approach to public consultation developed using a project-specific Virtual Consultation Room supported by online and telephone consultation meetings with feedback being accepted via email, the project website and by post.
Figures released by the project team show 38,375 views were logged at the Virtual Consultation Room, which explained the project background and development process, the road-based and rail-based options being examined, the potential for active travel and the consultation process itself.
In addition members of the project team participated in 726 online or telephone consultations; received 1,091 feedback forms, 1,150 emails, 460 telephone calls and attended a number of virtual public meetings.
Commenting on the figures, Jari Howard, the project coordinator said: “By any criterion, this was a very significant and successful public consultation. Notwithstanding the use of a format that would have been new to many people, there was a tremendous level of constructive engagement".
The public consultation was advertised in the media late last year and over 5,000 letters were circulated within the study area.
“The online format of the consultation has led to much higher levels of public engagement than normally experienced and these new methods will become an integral part of all future consultations for this project, along with the traditional public display events and physical meetings once the public health guidance permits same,” said Mr Howard.
“We achieved our objective to engage with the public, increase understanding of the project and to capture local knowledge which may have been unknown to the project team. The feedback and submissions received through this public consultation will be considered by the project team in Stage 2 of the option selection process," he added.
Stage 2 will involve a further refinement of the road-based and rail-based options followed by appraisal under various criteria. including safety, economy and environment. This assessment and appraisal will lead to the identification of the best performing option or combination of options, which will be taken forward as the preferred option.
A further public consultation is expected to take place later this year and the project team will then engage directly with householders, land and all property owners, including businesses and other stakeholders along the preferred option as the design is developed.
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