More and more companies are realizing that the prioritization of safe, reliable energy methods is the best way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. By using the Earth’s natural, predictable energy from tidal power, we can generate reliable electricity while conserving other resources. However, some environmental groups oppose new tidal projects due to fear that the turbines could impact the bay environment in a negative way instead of generating a net-positive environmental gain. Without sufficient preparation in terms of community education and citizen outreach, tidal power companies can lose control of their messaging to opposition groups who seek to delay or even cancel proposals all together.
Even the best of proposals can be hindered by companies that are unprepared for this likely public opposition. Despite the benefits large-scale power projects will provide if built, a smart public affairs plan must be implemented to avoid the risk of opponents effectively defeating your campaign. Such strategic planning was lacking in the Kaipara Harbour tidal turbine project, and as a result, this project was delayed and eventually cancelled all together when the local Maori rallied to gather the public’s attention and successfully defeated the turbine project. Despite being initially approved, plans to fully develop the Kaipara Tidal Power Station have been halted and the project put on hold.
To strategically combat opposition to tidal power projects, it is important to begin outreach as soon as a project is first announced to the public. By employing strategic tactics ahead of time to increase public awareness, companies can successfully convey the benefits of tidal power to create an effective advocacy network of supporters to engage in grassroots efforts.
Don’t let the opposition define you – educate residents as soon as your project takes shape
By detailing the project’s long term objectives and clearly establishing the benefits as early as the initial announcement, supporters will be easier to recruit. If implemented directly following project announcement, direct mail coupled with telephone identification calls that utilize a short and persuasive script are the best way to recruit supporters. A database should also be created that can be organized by demographics or political jurisdiction to ensure a data-informed campaign that can target specific legislators as needed. These tactics should be employed very early on in order to assure the public that tidal power companies have the community’s best interests in mind.