The coal story: Generational coal mining communities and strategies of energy transition in Australia
The implications of place attachment and loss in generational coal mining communities are currently underexamined in energy transition discourse in Australia. By examining public submissions regarding a coal mining development in Lithgow, New South Wales, this paper identifies a relationship between coal mining and generational identity in this community. Acknowledging this relationship adds a useful perspective to energy transition discourse by highlighting the way in which hidden dimensions of loss can act to reinforce local support of extractive industry. We combine recent scholarship on the emotionality of the minescape with work on the ways in which place attachment can translate to feelings of loss in response to material change to suggest that factors of time and place can make community-level actors within the energy landscape either receptive, or resistant, to change. Applying this understanding to decarbonisation strategies can inform a more effective, and more just, energy transition in Australia.
Hanging in the Balance: Community Participation in the Springvale Extension Development Proposal
This thesis explores the way in which a contested coal mining development in the vicinity of
Lithgow, New South Wales, was approved by the NSW Planning and Assessment Commission
(PAC) in a decision-making process extended by an amendment to the State Environmental
Planning Policy (Mining, Petroleum Production and Extractive Industries) 2007 (NSW). This
analysis employs the principles of environmental justice within a legal geography approach to
examine how communities mobilised their justice claims through different constructions of
‘local’ interest during the decision-making process. The role of the law in this decision-making
process both supported and undermined the ability of environment opponents of this
development to engage with and be equitably represented by the planning system. This analysis suggests that the interaction between the key decision-making processes in this case-
study - the PAC, and a judicial review in the NSW Land and Environment Court – interacted in ways that resulted in the justice claims of particular human and non-human communities
being misrepresented and silenced throughout the planning process. This paper engages with
and contributes to contemporary debates about the rising influence of community
participation as a form of decentralised environmental governance, and its capacity to deliver
positive, and equitable, social and environmental outcomes in NSW.
The construction of ‘local’ interest in New South Wales environmental planning processes
Deliberative democracy in the form of community participation is considered a ‘key priority’ in New South Wales (NSW) environmental planning. Community participation plays an increasingly central role in state significant developments, which are often sites of contestation. Community participation processes draw upon particular factors of place-based identity, which engage with notions of procedural legitimacy in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. This paper uses a legal geography analysis to explore this link between place-based identity and the experience of procedural legitimacy. We highlight a case study in which a contested coal mining development near Lithgow, NSW was approved by the NSW Planning Assessment Commission (PAC). This analysis examines how ‘local’ justice was constructed and mobilised in specific ways by proponents and opponents alike. Spatial factors of identity manifested in distinct ways in participation processes, particularly with respect to (i) claims to legitimacy and (ii) the lived experiences of engagement in a public forum. This case study demonstrates the way in which dualistic spatial terms such as ‘outsider’ opposition and ‘local’ support can render multiple interests of both human and non-human communities invisible. In so doing we are engaging with
current work on environmental justice that examines the
intersection of scale, efficacy and equity in processes of
The Lithgow Environment Group seeks to preserve the balance of nature in its region. This is especially important given the impacts of the area's industrial heritage. The Lithgow region contains some of the most biodiverse bushland in the Greater Blue Mountains. Our aim is to promote and protect this rich natural heritage..
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