Discussing the impacts of offshore wind turbine installations

France is one of the largest economies in the world, with extraordinary social and economic development. However, climate change poses a major challenge, with temperatures across France steadily rising. Additionally, there are sociodemographic challenges related to its aging population.

The challenges that France faces are multifaceted, but to address the issue of supporting the European Green Deal, PHOENIX opted for focusing on a comprehensive energy strategy that incorporates crucial elements. Currently, France relies on nuclear generators to produce energy, so increasing efforts are required to expand renewables. The French government is finalizing plans for the installation of offshore wind turbines along the French coast.

In light of the challenges facing France, PHOENIX proposes a comprehensive public debate on the impacts of offshore wind turbine installations. The participatory process will utilize various tools to engage a diverse public, including vulnerable populations, to gather public opinion on the optimal maritime areas for windfarm construction.

This process will involve a general debate among randomly-selected participants on the criteria for selecting windfarm locations, the creation of a role-playing game to consider non-human elements, the collection of specific proposals regarding the best locations for windmill installation, and the synthesis of all information to ensure that any emerging contradictions are adequately addressed.

Pilot Details

  • Country: France
  • Administrative level: National
  • Local Partner: Res publica
  • Topic: Energy, Climate, Ocean biodiversity
  • Main Objectives: Support the Public Debate on maritime planning organised by the Commission Nationale du Débat Public (CNDP) to discuss the future of the sea, the coastline, marine biodiversity and the impact of offshore wind energy
  • Pilot website: debatpublic.fr

The four topics identified by the Szeged Territorial Planning Platform (TCCD)

Between July and September 2023, the Szeged Territorial Planning Platform (TCCD) convened to identify key topics for the Szeged Citizen Assembly. Comprising 15 knowledgeable civilians, urban company delegates, and association representatives, the TCCD narrowed down over 30 issues to four main topics: transportation, waste management (including waste-to-energy burning), urban heat islands management through green spaces, all discussed under the umbrella of public awareness.

The TCCD’s decision and rationale for the pilot discussions are as follows:

1. Knowledge Gap in Sustainable Energy and Green Transition: Addressing a lack of public awareness about the “energy transition,” the Citizen Assembly should aim to collectively propose solutions to bridge the knowledge gap regarding sustainable energy and green initiatives.

2. Urban Heat Islands and Energy Relationship: Focusing on the impact of urban heat islands caused by high building density, the Assembly should aim to propose solutions to mitigate the effects on energy consumption and alleviate long-term temperature increases in the city.


3. Heating and Waste Management Relationship: Targeting issues related to winter waste incineration and air pollution, the Assembly should seek to identify problems, survey affected areas, and collaboratively develop solutions related to waste, heating, and their interconnection.

4. Conflicts in Public Transportation in Szeged: With a surge in private car use leading to conflicts among commuters, the Assembly’s goal should be to uncover sources of conflict and propose solutions for more rational transportation planning, encouraging greener commuting options in Szeged.

Unpacking the Szeged’s Citizen Assembly

The first-ever Szeged Citizen Assembly, held on January 12-13, 2024, was a collaboration between the Szeged Municipality (Szeged MJV) and Enrawell Consulting Ltd., part of the PHOENIX project. This initiative seeks to integrate public opinions into decision-making across Europe.

The assembly, attended by over 50 participants, focused on transportation, waste management, and urban heat islands under the theme of public awareness. The event utilised an online platform developed by OneSource for secret voting, ensuring equal opportunities with one vote per person for each topic.

Created by four randomly created groups (Red, Green, Blue and Yellow), notable outcomes included:

1- Transportation: The method used for transportation was the Future Scenarios Tool. Participants identified main problems and envisioned a positive future for Szeged in 10 years. Not surprisingly, the construction of a third bridge was a prominent development direction. The four teams took different approaches: the Blue team that discussed this issue emphasised the connecting role of the Tisza River. The Yellow and Red teams suggested regional traffic restrictions or car-free zones, while the Green team proposed a new and free Park-and-Ride (P+R) system. Additional results involved bicycle infrastructure development, railway crossings, tram network extension, smart solutions for passenger information, free public transport for everyone, a taxi on the Tisza River, education on transport culture at schools, and motivation systems for downtown firms to encourage bike use.

Unpacking the Szeged’s Citizen Assembly

2- Urban Green Spaces: The development of urban green spaces was approached from four perspectives using the Ecosystem Toolkit, developed in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Florence. Participants chose “green functions” for an under-utilised public space in Szeged and played “action cards” for various green investments. Four areas, including the main square of Petőfi-telep, were planned. Innovative solutions were proposed for the renovation of Jókai utca and Mars tér. The most popular investment proposal, based on secret votes, was the Witch’s Alley or Witch’s Grove, transforming Witch Island into a nature-oriented space.

3- Waste Management: In the final stage, the Social Mapping Tool addressed waste management in Szeged. Participants identified local hotspots, proposed unique solutions, and suggested public awareness campaigns. A campaign to reduce waste burning, supported by artistic creations and comics, was highlighted. Art competitions involving children aimed to strengthen recycling culture. Despite acute issues with dog waste, participants reached a consensus on granting greater authority to public space supervision and strategically placing waste containers.