Mitigation processes

In practice the majority of mitigation processes is not “by the book”. The instances in which a conscious decision is taken by the re-sponsible authorities to start an integral mitigation process and follow a complete and rational planning process are limited. When this is the case, it is mostly on the basis of a directive of the national government, which indicates that regional and local governments are required to develop a mitigation plan for a specific risk. In those cases mostly the national government also sets the general principles and sometimes even directs the financial resources to the specific risk.

However, in the broader perspective of different approaches to mitigation planning the instances in which a conscious decision is taken to start an integral mitigation process are limited. In most cases mitigating a risk is not the primary goal. Safety often is merely one of the vital interests which should be taken into account, alongside interests like the economy and ecology. Result of the discussions by the MiSRaR partners is a typology which differentiates between four kinds of mitigation planning processes, derived from two distinctions in the underlying cause or motivation of the process. The first distinction is that between existing risk situations and new ones. The second distinction is that between processes which primary try to address the risk sources (hazards) themselves versus those aimed at the elements at risk (vulnerabilities). In the figure these two dimensions are confronted to each other, leading to a typology of four kinds of mitigation plans.

Mitigating new hazards

The first one is the introduction of a new (or increased) hazard. In cases of man-made risks this mostly concerns the founding of new industries and new infrastructure (with transport of dangerous substances). Those kinds of risks are governed by many forms of legislation, like the SEVESO-III directive (2012/18/EU), which require risk and environmental assessments and risk prevention policies. In those cases the miti-gation process is aimed at a transparent evaluation of the projected economical bene-fits of the proposed activities, confronted by the (potential) costs in terms of risk mitigation and actual damage by incidents. In concrete, mitigation might be a chapter or paragraph in the overall development plan, but depending on the legal obligations also a formal mitigation (and disaster preparedness) plan may be required. In case of a new or increased natural hazard there are less formal or legal incentives for a miti-gation plan or paragraph. A solid approach to risk identification is needed to have an early warning for new or increased natural risks and to be able to contemplate on the necessity of a specific mitigation plan. Examples are mitigation plans for global warming.

Mitigation in spatial developments

The second type of mitigation processes is when there are new developments, not of new risk sources, but of new vulnerabilities. This includes the development of new housing projects, new ‘vulnerable objects’ (like hospitals, schools) and new vital in-frastructure for public services (like power or water stations), which might be in the vicinity of man-made or natural risk sources. These developments are not primarily motivated by reduction of risks, but mostly by economical gains. Also in these cases there is legislation which governs the development process. However, in the practical experience of MiSRaR the legislations on spatial development in the EU member states is not always sufficiently taking into account aspects of mitigating physical safety risks. Fire safety of individual buildings is strongly regulated, but an all hazard, territorial view on safety risks seems to be lacking. From the point of view of risk mitigation the most important task in these kinds of developments, is to ensure attention for risks in the earliest stages of designing and to include a mitigation paragraph in the spatial development plans.

Mitigating existing hazards

The third type of mitigation processes is the one that is the most ‘by the book’. This kind is started from the perspective of existing hazards. On the basis of a full risk as-sessment insight may be gained in the most important hazard locations to mitigate. For those ones a mitigation plan might be drafted, including all kinds of measures from the perspective of ‘multi layer safety’. This kind of fundamental mitigation processes is very limited. By the MiSRaR partners only single hazard examples have been found. An all hazard territorial approach to mitigation, starting with an all hazard risk assessment, seems to be rare. Moreover, the examples of the complete (single hazard) mitigation plans which do exist show that most attention is given to non-structural measures and disaster relief. The reason for this is quite logical: structural and spatial mitigation measures are very expensive and mostly arise when there are other (eco-nomical) interests in spatial development.

Mitigation in spatial restructuring

The fourth category of mitigation is from the perspective of existing vulnerabilities. This is the case when a local government decides to restructure an existing area. Like new spatial developments this kind of cases is mostly not primarily motivated by risk mitigation. However, because existing risk situations often have been already identified and discussed upon in the past, the political decision-makers might be more will-ingly to take safety measures into account. In those instances the goal might be to incorporate the safety interests in the overall restructuring plan.