Land agents. Whether it’s acquiring the land necessary for a wind farm development or gas drilling operation, land agents serve a vital role for the energy industry to assemble the project footprint necessary to generate and produce the electricity and fuel we need to continually be powered up.
As a firm devoted to managing political opposition on the ground, educating stakeholders and determining strategies for countering misinformation about these projects, we have a great deal of respect for land agents. In many cases they represent the first project educators and representatives on the ground in a community while putting the land pieces of the project puzzle together.
But land agents also serve a vital role in community outreach and understanding the political pressures and landowner dynamics out in the field. In some case their communications serve as an early phase in development that feed the political momentum and stakeholder curiosity behind a project. Many aspects of such community outreach in land use politics are covered in our Saint University corporate training programs (see more below).
Our land use political teams help determine potential political fatal flaws in projects, plan winning ground campaigns and implement and manage field efforts for clients. We often work hand in hand with land agents in the early phases of some permitting efforts based on their detailed understanding of landowners and their concerns. They can be valuable information sources and community liaisons.
We also join projects where land agent activities have gone awry, and the first order of our business is to pick up the pieces. Just as there are good and bad political consultants and public relations firms out there, there are also good and bad land agents. Don’t get me wrong – land use agents have a job to do. A very important one. However, with increased access to information, sophisticated strategies and inquiring minds, opposition to these projects can quickly determine what’s being proposed before it’s applied for. That might not be the highest and best use of their services without the appropriate training to manage those circumstances appropriately to avoid announcing a project prematurely and erroneously to key stakeholders.
The best approach is to make sure land agents understand the value of stakeholder acceptance as well as cutting a land deal and put together early collaborative planning and conversations between land acquisition, development and public outreach teams. Where possible one should have a comprehensive training to make sure each component knows the value of the other and can clear the path toward an easy layup for approvals.
Saint University is the educational wing of The Saint Consulting Group, the world leader in Land Use Politics. Saint University offers corporate training and professional development seminars. Courses on managing the politics of land use can be custom-tailored by University faculty to fit the needs of any industry or professional discipline.
Click here for information about corporate education and the Saint University curriculum.
Jay Vincent is senior vice president for energy, The Saint Consulting Group, email firstname.lastname@example.org and phone 312.970.5770 Ext: 7502