Colloquium: Siting technological risks: the ethical challenge of spatial planning

Nuclear power plants, LPG storages, hydrogen-fuel stations and carbon dioxide storages are examples of established and emerging risky technologies which are and will be sited in Europe. As periodically reported on the media, policy-makers, proponents of these installations and the public are often into a conflicting position when decisions about their siting have to be taken. This problem is known in literature; however, different disciplines provide partial and sometimes competing perspectives on it. The aim of this VENI project is to integrate the contributions of three disciplines (namely risk analysis, spatial planning and the ethics of risk) into a decisional framework capable to resolve the conceptual challenges and supporting the siting of these risky technologies. Up to now, the disciplinary distance among risk analysts, spatial planners and philosophers of risk has prevented the emergence of such an integrated framework. In order to advance its creation, I will introduce the conception
of Safety as Spatial Value, which combines the quantitative (like distance from) and qualitative (like value of) dimensions of safety in this context. The key-output of the research will be a framework through which the two dimensions, that is the spatial and the ethical dimensions, can be jointly assessed. Arguably, in order to elaborate this interdisciplinary approach, one and the same ethical theory should support spatial planning and risk assessment evaluations; among others, I will emphasize the neo-contractualist approach developed by Rawls and Moroni.