Our activities have a range of different impacts on the people living close to the locations where we operate. We have been operating in the Upper Austria and Salzburg region for decades now. We have strong roots in the area and RAG is a firmly established member of the various local communities. This means that a strong sense of responsibility, reliability and respectful collaboration are particularly important when it comes to ensuring acceptance of our activities among local communities. The impact of our storage operations extends beyond Austria’s borders. Which is why we believe that we are responsible for safeguarding security of supply not only in Austria, but across Central Europe.
Interest in RAG Austria AG and its services has increased significantly over the past two years. Working constantly with the principle of open and transparent communications in mind, we have intensified dialogue at the local level, as well as with media representatives and political decision-makers at the federal and provincial levels. Our primary focus is on providing information on the complex topic of energy and raw material supplies, and the options for their future development.
This policy of open and transparent communications on topics such as security of supply, green gas and hydrogen technologies has enabled RAG to become firmly established as an energy expert for political administrative bodies and ministries, and among the general public.
We live up to our responsibilities to local people, local authorities and local companies, who can be affected by our decisions and actions. We are committed to communicating proactively, openly and respectfully with all stakeholder groups, and taking their concerns into account to the greatest possible extent. Open, proactive communication is also essential for implementing responsible business practices.
We listen to our stakeholders, provide comprehensive information and communicate regularly with the public, local authorities, public agencies and key local institutions. We believe this is crucial for building productive partnerships. Our aim is to provide all participants in the various phases of our projects with transparent, clear and understandable information, and to involve them in official procedures in good time. Our communication guidelines for projects help us to take a structured approach to achieving these goals.
Further details of our engagement with local authorities can be found in the chapter on ‘Environmental protection‘ in the section ‘Biodiversity‘. As in previous years, in 2022 our CEO Markus Mitteregger held discussions with the mayors of the most important municipalities where our operating facilities are located, exchanging views with them on future focuses, security of supply, the roadmap for the transformation of energy supply, and the energy storage facilities of the future. After a hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we successfully resumed other established forms of dialogue, offering the public the opportunity to once again take part in events including guided tours of our facilities, the Long Night of Research and open days. Events for media representatives and special days for local residents are planned in 2023.
Complaints and enquiries from external stakeholders are forwarded to the company’s central departments by reception, Corporate Communications, Regulatory Liaison and Business Environment Management, and Dispatching, and are processed, recorded and fully responded to as quickly as possible. Complaints mainly relate to noise, light and other emissions, while enquiries are usually for information about RAG’s operations.
Due to our close links with the regions where we operate – which go back decades in some cases – RAG sees itself as part of the communities that host its facilities. This is why we give preference to regional procurement, as well as creating and protecting jobs in the various regions. For the good of local communities, we also support vital regional organisations such as emergency services as well as social and charitable facilities, including the social supermarket in Strasswalchen, and local authority social funds, which provide anonymous donations to families in need, in order to avoid the stigma associated with such support. We also sponsor educational partners such as Vöcklabruck Technical College and the University of Leoben, as well as cultural facilities including the Austrian National Library.
Promoting science and technology literacy among young people from the local region is very important to us. Unfortunately, in 2021 and 2022 we were unable to cooperate as planned with additional schools in Braunau, Wels and Salzburg that have been awarded the MINT quality seal for science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). However, these activities are scheduled to take place in 2023.