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Environmental choices in the era of ecological modernization: siting of common interest facilities as a multi-alternative decision field problem in insular setups


The problem of siting common interest environmental facilities, in the era of ecological modernization, needs to be reformulated so that could support policies towards internalization of environmental externalities. The technical aspects of the siting problem, which ultimate goal is to propose economically efficient and environmentally suitable land use, are well studied in the literature and nowadays land suitability analysis has more evolved to a participatory terrain for expert practitioners and consultants. In our research, a new siting model is proposed, as an analogy to the multi-alternative preferential choice theory, where siting is reformed as a participatory evaluation problem of a set of alternative sites. Our model, on its technical level, is structured as a sequential process of trade-offs among multiple conflicting attributes in two stages: (a) the calculation of weighted comparative scores per site and (b) the introduction of basis scenarios with a range of deviations for weights coefficients of selection criteria. The outputs of the second stage are a set of hierarchization probabilities (scores), after applying multi-criteria decision analysis methodology. The meta-analysis of these scores provides a set of alternative siting problem solutions which are analytical in results, transparent in process, and more importantly highly participatory. The produced ranking matrices and distributions give quantitative insights on local stakeholders or groups of decision-makers preferences. Efficiently aiding decision-making process is a complex and challenging task, and our model was tested under a real siting case, i.e. in facilitating local community’s decision for the translocation of the thermal power production plant of Lesvos Island in Greece. After a long-term and severe conflict with the introduction of the proposed participatory process, (a) the stakeholders appreciated the transparency, simplicity, flexibility and user-friendliness of the model and visualization tool and (b) the public participation and trust to ‘outside experts’ was increased significantly. Here, the specific siting problem is used as explanatory exercise of the proposed siting model providing aspects and visualization of the models results, focusing on highlighting its key points.

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The authors would like to thank the numerous participants of the TPP siting project in Lesvos, stakeholders, authorities and administration staff members. T. Kontos, H. Polatidis, D. Haralambopoulos, N. Soulakellis, C.P. Halvadakis provided significant scientific inputs in the overall design of our approach. The authors also greatly appreciate the valuable comments and suggestions of three anonymous reviewers that helped improve the quality of this paper.

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Correspondence to Georgios K. Vasios.

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Vasios, G.K., Troumbis, A.Y., Zevgolis, Y. et al. Environmental choices in the era of ecological modernization: siting of common interest facilities as a multi-alternative decision field problem in insular setups. Environ Syst Decis 39, 49–64 (2019).

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  • Multi-criteria analysis
  • Multi-alternative dynamic field
  • Participatory decision-making
  • Visualization
  • Prioritization