As new industries emerge in rural areas, land use change can have important implications for affected communities. In-turn, social responses to developments can have important implications for industry. The idea that communities may, or may not, approve of landuse change has been conceptualised in the literature on ‘social license to operate’. While a principle focus of the social license literature has been on ways to strengthen relationships between community and industry, literature relating to social resistance movements has focused principally on the processes by which communities oppose developments. Reporting empirical data arising from an election survey, this paper seeks to draw together these two bodies of literature to understand how two rural communities responded to the development of the coal seam gas industry in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales, Australia. Perceptions of local benefit provision, against the contextual backdrop of rural economies and local perceptions of sustainability, proved pivotal for the legitimacy of the CSG industry. Instead of CSG companies achieving a social license to operate, a social resistance movement gained broad community support and resulted in social license withdrawal. This paper explores the drivers of social license withdrawal and the dynamics leading to the local success of a resistance movement, proposing a new diamond model of social license to operate. The social license diamond model can be used by policy makers to better understand the progression of community responses to industrial developments, from social license approval to withdrawal and beyond.
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Land Use Policy is an international and interdisciplinary journal concerned with the social, economic, political, legal, physical and planning aspects of urban and rural land use. It provides a forum for the exchange of ideas and information from the diverse range of disciplines and interest groups which must be combined to formulate effective land use policies.
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