Our place, or mine? : sense of place, social impact assessment and coal mining in Gloucester, NSW
thesisposted on 2023-05-26, 04:24 authored by Jordan, W
This study examines the impact of coal mining and coal seam methane (CSM) extraction on the 'sense of place' of the people of the Gloucester Shire, New South Wales. The findings derived from Gloucester inform an analysis of the potential for recognising loss of 'place' as a social impact within social impact assessment (SIA). This potential was considered within the geographic context of the Hunter Valley, Gunnedah Basin, and Gloucester Valley, which constitute contiguous and related regions subject to coal development. Previous research in similar contexts indicated that a felt loss of place was likely. A methodology was adopted that combined survey-based quantitative analysis, key informant interviews, and extensive consideration of the literature of place and SIA. Results indicate that loss of place is being felt strongly by the Gloucester community, although considerable divergence exists in both felt loss of place and support for coal-related development. Widespread dissatisfaction with the prevailing levels of community input into development processes also emerged as a significant issue with particular ramifications for the maintenance of place. While a substantial loss of place was in evidence in Gloucester, the recognition of this loss as a social impact is suggested as being hampered by mensuration difficulties, the diversity of 'place attachments', and the nature of impact assessment decision-making. The establishment of placeconscious, participatory SIA processes is suggested as an alternative mechanism for mitigating place loss in the coal mining areas of the Hunter, Gunnedah, and Gloucester regions.
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