First waste incineration facility in Lower Austria
The launching in 1994 of the planning of its first waste incineration facility, located in the state of Lower Austria, kicked off EVN’s initial exercises in stakeholder dialogue. This major exercise took on the topic of the thermal reuse of wastes – a subject fraught in those days with fear. It unleashed a wave of discussions among the general public. AVN (a joint venture that had just been founded by EVN and by the state government of Lower Austria) viewed the inclusion of neighboring communities, locally-based associations of interest groups, official bodies, politicians, technical and economic experts, the media and the public in general (encompassing especially those citizens affected) in the flow of information as being a matter of course and claim.
This openness constituted an approach that was unconventional in those days. Through it, the project company identified in 1997 a location that accorded with the interests and satisfied the consensus of the community. In a referendum, 74% of the citizens of Zwentendorf came out in favor of the building of a thermal waste utilization plant. The dedication of the small team staffing the project management company, which had just been founded and which has been known since 2009 as “EVN Abfallverwertung NÖ GmbH", ensured the taking into account – from the very inceptions of the project - of the interests of all stakeholders. The facility was commissioned in 2004. In 2007, a third line was added to it. This was put into operation in 2010. Environmentally (through an improvement in air quality) and economically benefiting from this facility have been both the community of Zwentendorf and the entire region of Tullnerfeld. Local restaurants and hotels have experienced increases in patronage stemming from the workforce and from the large number of visitors – some 38,000 over the past five years – coming to tour the facility, which is regarded as being a role model for all of Europe. Further facilities are being planned.
The secret of why EVN’s waste reuse facility in Lower Austria has been such a success with its stakeholders is the outreach conducted by the company to all citizens, opinion leaders and public authorities in the entire state. Comprised of an open and thus transparent dissemination of information, this outreach started with the setting up in the planning phase of a citizens’ board and of an information office. This outreach availed itself of a wide variety of channels, from publicly-attended discussions among experts to informatory road shows taking in extant facilities. The ongoing and intensive dissemination of information in the community and in neighboring ones was accompanied by the easy-to-understand communication of pros and cons in discussions with experts and in public events. A further channel is www.evn-abfallverwertung.at
. This Website of EVN Abfallverwertung briefs visitors on all aspects of the facilities. Another channel is the facility’s redesigned visitors’ center, which offers a tour of the facility and thus a look at all of its components, and a 3-D film.