Here are three key questions that could improve the functioning of any Public Liaison Committee about a controversial facility. PLCs often get bogged down in attack and defence, with the facility operator trying to defend itself by controlling information, and aggrieved neighbours trying to get louder in the hope of being heard. I think a better alternative could be built by focussing on:
1. What’s practical? What can the facility actually do to meet the needs of its neighbours? 100% odour free composting facilities, for example, probably don’t exist.
2. What’s true? What’s really going on at the facility, and in the neighbourhood around it? Neighbours often accuse the facility of a cover up; facilities often feel they’re being blamed for something they didn’t do.
3. What’s fair? What’s fair compensation to the neighbours for what they do have to put up with? What’s fair to the facility staff, especially if they are genuinely trying to do their best?
Wouldn’t this be a better conversation?