Regional Queenslanders have a whole lot of concerns about the impact of coal seam gas developments on their communities – and they aren’t just environmental.
A recent study has revealed besides drilling noise and water supply concerns, the social impacts – like anti-social behaviour and an increased demand on public services – are at the forefront of Queenslander’s minds.
The study was conducted by the University of Queensland School of Public Health through a series of interviews, focus groups and workshops in three local government areas in regional Queensland.
The number of CSG developments continues to increase in Queensland, and a better understanding of their impact is needed for health service planning in regions affected, researchers say.
The study hopes to provide the mining sector with evidence to help develop social responsibility programs that more accurately reflect the needs of the community.
Specifically, the concerns raised by people within the local communities in regions with CSG developments included:
- an increase in fast food outlets and liquor stores to cater for the CSG workforce having a negative impact on the health of the local community
- an increased demand on public services and unemployment following the “boom” period
- workers with expendable living in the area temporarily were associated with anti-social behaviour in the community
- the environmental effects of drilling and mining on the local water supply and fishing
- the increased noise pollution and traffic caused by an influx of workers
- an increase in shift workers and the impact this has on peoples mental health (shift workers often feel more isolated and struggle to integrate into a community)
- an increase in drug taking and alcohol abuse which were linked to increases in local crime.
The researchers note that this study only reported on negative impacts, and “any concerns should be taken in context with relevant positive contributions made by CSG developments”.