Winning the Battle in Your Backyard
Chris Hopkins is senior vice president for aggregates and mining for Saint Consulting and is based in Franklin, Tenn. He oversees all of Saint Consulting’s work in the quarry and mining industries throughout the U.S., United Kingdom and Canada. He is a regular speaker on permitting aggregate quarries before such organizations as the National Sand, Stone and Gravel Association and many regional aggregate associations.
One of America’s most astute politicians once opined that “all politics is local.” Today, he would probably add, “all land use is political.”
Throughout the United States and Europe, citizens are organizing to oppose all forms of new development projects. The “new jobs and new taxes” that developers traditionally promise no longer have the resonance they once enjoyed. Development is no longer synonymous with progress, nor is growth necessarily perceived as good.
The aggregate and mining industry increasingly finds itself the target of NIMBY (Not in My Backyard) activists who organize to block new projects and expansions.
From the rural Texas plains to the mountains of West Virginia, what used to be a strictly suburban anti-development attitude is dragging out the permitting of—or even killing—mining and quarry projects.
In fact, 64 percent of Americans say they would oppose a local quarry or mining project, according to the national Saint Index survey on attitudes toward real estate development projects. Only casinos and landfills are more opposed.
It is more politically expedient for politicians to side with the angry voters who elect them in opposition to a quarry or mining proposal—especially if there is no visible, vocal community support to provide the cover decision-makers need to approve a controversial project.
Back room deals and promises made between developers and local officials fall apart when an elected official is faced with a room full of angry constituents or a vigorously curious reporter.
To be successful in this environment, a skillfully crafted and executed land-use campaign must be developed and executed to generate grassroots support and appropriate levels of targeted political pressure at critical points in the permitting process.
According to the Saint Index, opposition to development is strong in many communities.
- 78 percent of Americans believe there should be no new development in their hometown.
- NIMBY-ism transcends political party lines.
- One-quarter of all Americans have opposed a development project, twice as many as have supported one (a rise from one out of five people in 2006).
- Asked what type of new development they’d like to see in their community, one in three Americans said “none,” by far the most popular choice.
So how can you get your plans approved? First, know what the locals oppose. For local quarry projects, key steps include defusing the issues inevitably raised by opponents in the permitting process. These include fears related to:
- Truck traffic
- Environmental concerns
The Saint Consulting Group understands that all land use decisions are political in nature. If your side successfully attracts more citizens to support the project and demonstrates that support through petitions, letters, phone calls, emails, blogging entries and personal appeals to elected officials, your side will carry the vote.
The Saint Consulting Group is the only firm in the world with a division dedicated exclusively to the politics of obtaining aggregate quarry and mining permits. For more information, go to www.tscg.biz.
This material has been voluntarily provided by Saint Consulting Group. Saint Consulting Group is not speaking on behalf of Caterpillar, and the views or opinions expressed in this material are those of Saint Consulting Group and may not represent the views of Caterpillar.