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Since September 2005 we have been promoting a campaign entitled ‘Dialogue and Encounters’ which is designed to nurture contacts with the municipalities concerned, with the landowners and rights holders directly affected by the scheme, with people who live in the region and the companies that operate there, with the interest groups in the district and province as a whole, with acknowledged NGOs and, last but not least, with the media. These contacts have been further intensified since we started preparing the documents required for planning permission in 2006. This has meant taking part in and supporting various working groups and public participation schemes, in particular in the Kauntertal valley.

The dialogue process is based on openness and partnership and in this way we have informed everyone concerned of the project and clarified uncertainties. We have, however, also taken on board the objections and ideas for adaptations of those involved. Those concerned have always been kept up to date through direct talks with the project manager and have been able to directly voice their objections. Ideas for adaptations were put to the technical planning team and have been taken into account wherever technically and economically efficient and feasible.

Newsletters and Consultation Days in the municipalities have given the public the opportunity to stay on the ball. In addition, we staged informative events in the municipalities concerned, giving the public the possibility to get first-hand information about the project. Information panels about the power plant upgrade were also set up within the framework of various events, where members of the public had the opportunity to obtain information and discuss issues with the project manager himself. What is more, several information panels were also put up for visitors to the existing power plant in Kaunertal. In addition, we have added an information portal entitled ‘Expansion of Hydropower’ to the homepage of TIWAG-Tiroler Wasserkraft AG (www.tiwag.at) which provides the most important information about the project for those interested.

What is more, an Info Centre was set up at Gepatsch Reservoir in 2012, where those interested can obtain information about the Kaunertal Hydropower Expansion Project. In 2016, the development scheme was subjected to a sustainability assessment based on the guidelines of the International Hydropower Association (IHA). The assessment also comprised more than 80 interviews with various stakeholders. All the findings and results of the assessment were presented at a press conference in February 2017 and are published on TIWAG’s homepage (see info box).

Every year, visitors to Innsbruck’s Autumn Trade Show have the opportunity to find out more about the expansion of hydropower capacity at TIWAG-Tiroler Wasserkraft AG’s stand. Project managers and members of the board are on site to provide information on all TIWAG development schemes, in particular on the proposed expansion of the Kaunertal hydropower power plant.

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