Support by the numbers

GISERA social impact study released

Report lead author Andrea Walton and GISERA director Damian Barrett at a presentation in Narrabri in September.

There have always been three camps in relation to the prospect of coal seam gas development in Narrabri Shire, and the latest research into what they think about the Narrabri Gas Project has been released.

The social impact assessment ‘Community wellbeing and local attitudes to coal seam gas development’ was commissioned by the Gas Industry Social and Environmental Research Alliance and undertaken by the CSIRO, and was released on Friday.

It is the third GISERA-commissioned report to be released in recent weeks, following others relating to methane levels and impacts on groundwater.

There are a lot of statistics in the 96-page report but its aim was to get a handle on community wellbeing ahead of the project, should it get the go-ahead.

It aims to work from a pre-CSG baseline so that any changes in community wellbeing can be objectively measured and strategies put in place to help counter any negative impacts.

That will be the final phase of the four-part research, of which the latest report is the third, and builds on the previous work.

Researchers surveyed 400 random residents from throughout Narrabri Shire and asked 183 questions.

The survey took place in March and April.

Apart from establishing what the current level of community wellbeing was, it also looked into community perceptions about CSG, and the research attempts to relate one to the other.

So what did it find?

The headline figures were that 14.8 per cent embraced CSG development, 13 per cent approved of it, 14.7 per cent would be okay with it, 27 per cent would tolerate it and 30.5 per cent rejected it, leaving the split 69.5 per cent in support or not opposed and 30.5 per cent opposed.

Another way of looking at it was that there were three camps, well known to most residents of the shire - those strongly opposed or supportive and those in the middle, described as “lukewarm”, which included those who would tolerate or be okay with CSG.

That lukewarm group made up 41.7 per cent of respondents, the largest proportion.