Exploring CCS community acceptance and public participation from a human and social capital perspective
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The delay or cancellation of energy infrastructure projects, such as wind farms and nuclear power plants and more recently carbon capture and storage (CCS) because of community resistance and poor public participation processes are well known. Yet, some communities accept these projects with relative ease. The term acceptance implies passivity and as such does not necessarily reflect community approval or support. If acceptance is passive, what are the characteristics of a community in which the acceptance of CCS is achieved with relative ease; and what best-practice public participation processes are most appropriate for it? This paper attempts to answer these questions through a case study of Australia's Otway Project. Qualitative research methods were used to conduct a human and social capital analysis of the Otway community. An assessment of the project's public participation process was made in light of that analysis. The study found that the community needed capacity-building to enable it to become well-informed about CCS; and to help it develop the negotiation skills necessary to have the proponent address its concerns about the project in a timely manner. An assessment of the Otway public participation process found that while it implemented the majority of best practice principles in public participation, it lacked an adherence to three: transparency, fairness and capacity. A mindfulness of all principles of best practice in public participation would have ensured a fairer and more transparent process.
KeywordsAcceptance Carbon capture and storage Community Human capital Public participation Social capital
We would like to thank the farmers and residents in the Otway project area and other interviewees who participated in this research. We would also like to thank Dr Carolyn Hendriks, of the Australian National University, and two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments on this article.
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