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Disparity of state regulations causing community concern
27 February 2014
26 February 2014
The disparity of state regulations in Australia is one of the key causes of community concerns about unconventional gas development in Australia, according to researchers at University College London in Adelaide.
Addressing the Australian Domestic Gas Outlook 2014 in Sydney today, Professor Stefaan Simons, Director of UCL’s International Energy Policy Institute, says communities can access a wide variety of information and they are confused about the alternative messages delivered by different state-to-state regulations.
He says South Australia is widely considered to have the most progressive regulatory environment and NSW one of the most restrictive, therefore communities in those states must wonder ‘is one more right and one more wrong’?
Professor Simons says the challenge for the Federal government is to encourage more seamlessness because onshore petroleum basins cross state boundaries.
However, he told the conference that governments need to balance regulation because imposing excessive red tape will deter investment.
Professor Simons’ presentation ‘Evaluating the effectiveness of government initiatives and intervention policies in emerging unconventional gas markets’ suggested that dealing with community misconceptions and education should be given a higher priority as part of the solution for building community confidence.
“Effective collaboration among communities, industry and governments is vital for long term success of an Australian shale gas industry,’ he says
Professor Simons says collective learning and infrastructure sharing and investment in R&D could also expedite progress for future shale gas success in Australia.
“Our shale gas research team is starting to demonstrate a quadrangle model of effective community engagement. It works when governance, corporate responsibility, education and training, and direct benefits work in harmony,” he says.
“When each of these four requirements is present and operating satisfactorily in balance, a ‘Social License to Operate’ exists for the developer.”
Professor Simons’ comments come after UCL published the green paper Shale Gas in Australia: the Policy Options last October which examined in detail for the first time the reasons behind the US shale gas boom and asks the question: ‘if Australia wants its own shale gas revolution what needs to happen?’ The paper provided 10 recommendations which it says policy makers should debate, particularly as the Federal Government builds momentum towards its new Energy White Paper, due by September this year.