4th CES International Seminar on the Foundations of Economics

Silences and saliencies:
how an airport becomes (in)visible
José Reis
Tiago Santos Pereira
4th CES International Seminar on the Foundations of Economics
Value Conflict, Decision Making and Public Action
15 and 16 june 2012
0. The main debates on big infrastructural
projects in Portugal in the last decades
Two of them:
- A new airport in Lisbon (a discussion started in the 60'
and reopen in the 90')
- An high speed train in the European transport
1. Deliberation on big public infrastructures: of
course a collective and political deliberation…
– How objectives were formulated
– What influences were considered (external
economies of the deliberation)
– How the main constraints were formulated
– Who participates in the process
2. Infrastructures for mobility (airport or high
speed train): three main points for
– Urban planning: the design of the main forms of
articulation of a country (both internal and
external); a decision on the localizations that will
be priorities for differential growth and
– Land rent: in what localization rents will be
maximized; what new mechanisms will be
available for differential rents
– Infrastructural articulation: how a concrete project
will improve the consistence of the general
3. The first formulation of objectives,
influences and constraints for the new airport
– An urban context for the project: a territory
between metropolitan areas and urban density
– A context of urban planning: a program on the
public policies for the territory (PNPOT)
– A network of infrastructures for mobility
(preexistent railway infrastructures; joint decision
with new high speed line; preexistent highway
– Environmental impact assessment
4. An abrupt reversion of the previous
formulation of the project and the context for
deliberation (2009)
– A process of deliberation reopen with a new
agenda of criterions
– An arbitrage between two singles alternatives
– The intervention of a new “independent”,
“technical”, “third part” (vs. existing earlier
separate technical reports)
– A “value free” and flat scale to “deduce” de
decision with the dominance of a cost-benefit
5.The seven topics for the decision
-security, efficiency and capacity of air trafic
-sustainability of natural resources and risks;
- biodiversity and nature conservation;
- land transport systems and accessibilities;
- territorial planning;
- competitiveness and socio-economic
-financial assessment
6. The new, “value free”, decision: is it really
value free?
– An airport articulated with a metropolitan area
and disarticulated with a large and wider urban
• A new direction for metropolitan consolidation (territorial
planning emerging differently as a ‘contrary’ argument –
national vs regional approach)
• A new big hardware: a more complex system to cross the
Tagus river (a new source for monopoly rents)
– Is the delegation of the decision to a technical
committee, in an already controversial issue, a
neutral process? (Cf. participatory turn in sociotechnical controversies)
7. Conclusion
– An airport for the reconfiguration of the urban
system without political deliberation of explicit
– A deep process of production and appropriation
of land rent
• A new landscape for differential valorization of land:
localization of new equipments and urban expansion and
• A new valorization of projects thought as diffused and now
putted in a closer localization of urban and metropolitan
– A technical committee as a closing strategy for the

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