The subject of this study is the activity of rural communities in the face of plans of locating unwanted projects within their locations of residence, and the influence of the activity on the decision makers and, ultimately, on the final fate of the envisaged projects. The participation of inhabitants and decisions of the authorities, taken in response to these activities, and concerning the respective projects, were analysed on a basis of a questionnaire-based survey which was undertaken in the municipalities, in which conflicts have taken place. In-depth investigations were also carried out in five municipalities. The following activities: preparing a collective petition to decision-maker, organizing local meetings, taking part in meetings organised by the authorities or investor, filing of proposals and remarks to the projects of decisions and documents, entering into cooperation with actors from outside of the municipality were undertaken by groups of residents in more than 65% cases of conflicts. The activity of inhabitants generally exerted an influence on the final outcome from the respective conflicts. In the majority of cases, the unwanted projects, for which the decision making body was the local authority, either were not realised, or were realised with modifications, resulting from the social protests.
The article concerns the legal dimension of local communities’ participation in selected aspects of shaping space in Poland. The results of the review of legal regulations are presented, including interpretations of regulations made by other authors. Examples taken from previous research were used to show the functioning of these regulations in practice and their consequences. The aim of the article is to assess the legal conditions for the participation of local communities in spatial planning, planning of protected areas and location of investments in Poland, in relation to selected theoretical concepts, as well as to assess the consequences of these conditions. In the legal dimension, the participation of the local community in shaping space is symbolic, in the terminology of the Arnstein ladder. The dominant model is a non-binding opinion on ready-made projects and plans, instead of collaboration in their creation.