Local Government

The onshore gas industry can impact on regional communities in various ways.

Our local government

The onshore gas industry can impact on regional communities in various ways.

Therefore, it is essential that onshore gas proponents communicate with councils early in the project planning phase to ensure that there is adequate capacity to cater for the whole community throughout the different phases of onshore gas industry activity.

Social impacts from the onshore gas industry

The arrival of the gas industry can have a significant social impact on a regional community. Hence, onshore gas companies are required to include a social impact assessment (SIA) as part of the approval process for their environmental impact statement in line with the Queensland Government’s SIA Guideline.

The SIA identifies the social impacts directly related to the project and proposes strategies to capitalize on social opportunities and to avoid, manage, mitigate or offset the predicted detrimental project impacts.

Once the impacts are identified, onshore gas proponents are required to consult with affected communities and local councils to develop impact management strategies. Onshore gas proponents are then required to implement and report on these strategies as part of their SIA commitments.

Road impacts and regional communities

Increased traffic flows as a result of onshore gas industry activity can impact significantly on existing road networks in regional communities. It is essential that gas companies continue to communicate with local and state government from the early project planning phase to the operational phase.

The process for identifying and managing the impacts on local and state roads from individual onshore gas projects in Queensland involve 3 key steps:

1. Estimating project traffic and assessing potential road impacts

In Queensland, onshore gas companies are generally required to prepare a road impact assessment as part of the approval process for their project’s environmental impact statement (EIS).

The Department of Transport and Main Roads has established a Guide to Traffic Impact Assessment which provides the proponent with advice on how to assess the traffic and pavement impacts of their proposed development.

2. Proposing ways of mitigating road impacts of project traffic in consultation with road authorities

Following the road impact assessment, onshore gas proponents are required to hold negotiations with both the Queensland Government and local councils in relation to their roads.

These negotiations will consider how best to address and mitigate road impacts, for example through contributing to minor road or intersection improvements, to road maintenance and/or to manage impacts through the proponent’s road-use management plan.

Financial arrangements are detailed in separate road infrastructure agreements between onshore gas proponents and the local councils for affected local roads and the Queensland Government for state roads.

These agreements are regularly reviewed by councils and the Queensland Government in line with the progressive development of onshore gas projects.

3. Agreeing on managing road impacts.

Onshore gas proponents are also required to develop a road-use management plan that outlines how they will manage impacts of their project traffic and its use of local and state roads throughout different phases of the project.

The road-use management plan and road infrastructure agreements for local and state roads provide the basis for managing roads impacts of onshore gas projects in Queensland.

Local government checklist

This checklist provides a range of prompts for councils about the ways that industry operations could affect their activities and the delivery of infrastructure and services to their local community.

Councils who engage early with onshore gas companies in their local area and work through these issues from the outset may be better positioned to plan for future infrastructure and longer term economic growth.

This list is a guide only and councils may have specific concerns not addressed below that may require discussion with the respective companies.

Key considerations for local government

1. Planning

  • Has Council provided briefings to the proponent/s on the region's planning scheme, including zoning maps and strategic land use to encourage discussion and management of possible impacts? For example, is there sufficient residential and industrial land?
  • Has Council conducted pre-development assessments of assets (such as roads) to establish a baseline for measuring and monitoring future impacts and operations?
  • Has Council considered any changes required for rating methodologies, e.g. for petroleum leases, workers camps?
  • Has Council given consideration to the placement of worker camps, e.g. inside or outside the town boundary, on or off tenure?
  • Has Council considered how to manage impacts by other parties which support the gas companies but which are separate legal entities (e.g. Powerlink, quarries)?

2. Community facilities and services

  • Does Council have a road infrastructure agreement in place?
  • Has Council considered the depreciation of assets and the ongoing effect on budget (i.e., any road, airport or other infrastructure improvements which need to be depreciated in budgets)?
  • Has Council considered any potential need for upgrades to energy networks?
  • Has Council considered the impacts on the telecommunication network?
  • Has Council conducted planning / projections on required community infrastructure to be ready to identify potential funding partnerships with industry and other levels of government?
  • Has Council considered traffic management strategies, including hours of operation and managing routes around local school bus runs?

3. Environment and health

  • Has Council considered the impacts on local health services / police / schools?
  • Does Council have dust or other environmental monitoring procedures and agreements in place?
  • Has Council considered the impacts on housing - affordability / availability? What are the projected housing / accommodation requirements in the short term (1-3 years), medium term (4-10 years) and longer term (> 10 years)?
  • Has Council conducted adequate research into the potential demand on water / sewerage / waste infrastructure?
  • Has Council considered potential impacts on local weed and pest management plans, including location and operation of weed wash-down facilities, both permanent and mobile?

4. Employment and business

  • Has Council considered the business opportunities for their community (for example, engaging with the local chamber of commerce or regional economic development organisation)?
  • Has Council considered impacts on the local workforce (retention of key workers within the community and retention strategies for Council's own workforce also)?