Einhorn-Tunnel Citizen Dialogue, Schwäbisch Gmünd, Germany (tunnel filter dialogue)

Einhorn-Tunnel Citizen Dialogue, Schwäbisch Gmünd, Germany (tunnel filter dialogue)


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Problems and Purpose

After the City of Schwäbisch Gmünd decided to build the tunnel it was opened in 2013. Purpose of the tunnel was to relieve the inner city traffic. But residents in the proximity feared risks for people and the environment and demanded an installation of tunnel filters. To solve this issue the Bundesforschungsministerium in Germany (BMBF) funded and commissioned a citizen dialogue to answer the questions about health risks and environmental consequences from the tunnel emissions as well as to identify the benefits from the installation of tunnel filters. For example how much is the reduction of hazardous exhaust gases.

Background History and Context

In 2013 the 2,2 km long "Einhorn-Tunnel" was opened for traffic. Main reason to build the tunnel was to relieve the cities traffic on the B29 (A-Road or federal highway). The exhaust gases of the traffic in the tunnel should escape through a vent stack into the air.

Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities

Organising entities have been the Fraunhofer Institut UMSICHT, the Institut für Organisationskommunikaiton (IFOK GmbH) and the Institute for Advaned Studies in the Humanities (KWI). The project was funded by the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF).

Participant Recruitment and Selection

Interested/active citizens (mostly from the initiative "Pro Tunnelfilter") of the region came together with experts from various backgrounds (techniques, administration and politics). Also technical consultants were selected together by the "Round Table" and the citizen initiative Pro Tunnelfilter to find answers to the questions.

Methods and Tools Used

During six months four separate events took place to collaborate, collect results, discuss them and give advise.

Citizen dialog process: Four half-day meetings took place. Core is the funded "Round Table". This Round Table exists out of representatives of the urban society as well as representatives from intituions linked to the erection/building of the vent stack for the tunnel. Right after every meeting, a town meeting took place to inform the public. During the process of deliberation all Round Table meetings were open for everyone to join and listen. All documents were published on the website www.tunneldialog.de.

While these round table meetings/town hall meeting the reserachers of the Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities (KWI) had the following tasks:

The researchers accompany the participation process scientifically. First step was to identify the conflict structures and topics for the pros and cons of the tunnel filters and map them network-analytically to create an overall map of conflicts. Second step was to evaluate the dialogue-process and its impact more precise. Doing that, the process-impact on the level of information and the opinions of the participants are noted as well as a assessment of the process quality. With an analysis of the process quality it is possible to make statements about the value and the problems about the participation process.

Deliberation, Decisions, and Public Interaction

Decision maker is the so called Round Table of the "Tunnel-Dialogue". They make decisions based on results and the discussions in the overall process of the tunnel filter dialogue. A flyer was made for the citizens in the region which should be handed out in an understandable language without the need of complex scientific background knowledge. This flyer should comprises of the process, the results and the recommendations of the process of the "Tunnel Dialogue". A press conference was held to inform the public about the decisions.

Influence, Outcomes, and Effects

The "Einhorn-Tunnel" helps to relieve the air from pollutants. It especially should have benefit the valley location and its air quality in the area. So far the idea. The tunnel filter would reduce the fine dust pollution in the proximity less than 0,01%. Same resultas with other pollutants. Which means that the installation of a filter cannot be justified with health or environmental arguments. So it was deciced not to install a tunnel filter. The cost-benefit ratio show that it would be unreasonable.

Analysis and Lessons Learned

The dialogue can be considered as an overall successful participation process. The conflict parties and participants have been convinced by the scientific results from the experts. The longstanding conflict seems to be ended with this dialogue. The tunnel filters are not necessary for the air quality and the region and would not make a big differance in the amount of pollutants/exhaust gases. But which lessons learned can be used or are from interest for other similar cases/problems or processes?

1. Start earlier with an participatory process. Could reduce the conclift between the parties.

2. Selection of participants: if a "round table" got established, make sure that this round table is taking part in the process of descision making and deliberation. Which means let the round table participate in the selection of experts, organisers, moderators and evaluators for the overall participatory process or citizen dialogue. This would lead to more trust and acceptance.

3. More and better space for deciscion-making and composition-making. Especially for the funded round table and the citizens. More citizens may participated if the discussion was not only based on the fact, that tunnel filters are not needed or necessary (scientifically).

4. A guaranteed discussion with the responsible political actors (on state or national level) about the results of the tunnel-filter dialogue. And consideration of the results from the not lawful tunnel diualogue.

5. Balanced composition of the participants: make sure that committees like a round table are balanced in their composition to guarantee that all interests and positions are represented. Especially from the affected locals in the region/are, but also from outside the region/area - supra-regional. Also participants/decison-makers (politicians) from the state and national level should be considered and included. Like state and national ministries for traffic and infrastructure for example.

6. Importance of an professional planning and execution of the participatory process. Neutral participants (like moderators) can play a crucial role in the process.

7. Good communication: Involve the public as soon as possible and provide enough information about and during the whole process. Also inform about opinion-changes and the learning process. Important is to provide all these information in an understandable language. Use of different information channels.

8. Clarify targets and communicate them: The contracting authority for the participatory process should clarify the aims with the involved participants and communicate them. Questions: Should the citizens just be informed or should they be convinced by something? Should the citizens consult the administration/politics or are they directly involved in the decision-making?


See Also

Roundtable Discussion


Final report (long version): http://www.schwaebisch-gmuend.de/brcms/pdf/Endbericht_Tunneldialog_final...

Final report (short version):  https://www.umsicht.fraunhofer.de/content/dam/umsicht/de/dokumente/press...

External Links

Project homepage KWI: http://www.kwi-nrw.de/home/projekt-87.html

Project webpage City Schwäbisch Gmünd: https://web.archive.org/web/20180809052535/https://www.schwaebisch-gmuen...


Lead image: 

Case Data


Schwäbisch Gmünd


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Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF)
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Kulturwissenschaftliches Institut Essen (KWI)
Institut für Organisationskommunikation (IFOK GmbH)
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iMA Richter & Röckle GmbH & Co KG


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