Social licence and community engagement have become pretty loose terms thrown around bureaucratic circles for a good 10 years or more.
And if you're one of the thousands of farmers in the way of a planned transmission line project, such concepts could rightly be viewed as little more than a tick-the-box exercise.
This is because companies doggedly plough their way through communities, weaving their web of transmission lines across Australian farmland.
If you think about the ethical meaning underpinning social licence, it's about legitimacy, credibility and trust, and how far that extends within a community in terms of acceptance and approval.
We're told planning approvals depend on clear evidence of community and social engagement.
However, with so many farmers left in the wilderness about their rights when a transmission line is foisted upon them, or feeling ripped off around compensation and confused about the financial risks of a project, it is past time these licences were called in to check.
With 10,000 kilometres of lines mooted for construction across Australia, and community backlash burning like a series of out-of-control bushfires, the government has acknowledged it's time to reign in some of that loose observance of social licence and community engagement, even though many farmers fear that horse may have already bolted.
There are currently three different reviews or determinations taking place within national energy bodies.
These include the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC), which is reviewing rules to enhance community engagement in transmission building, and just a few days ago the Australian Energy Regulator released a 'directions paper' on social licence for electricity transmission.
Thirdly, Australia's Energy Infrastructure Commissioner, Andrew Dyer, will next month release his own findings from a review on ways to improve community engagement with renewable energy projects.
The latter review received more than 500 written submissions and 250 survey responses, noting that a "material issue" has been the "quality and effectiveness of infrastructure project proponents in their engagement and relationships with affected communities".
You're not wrong!
What's become clear in the past four years is that meetings, glossy flyers and consultation alone does not constitute engagement.
Much of the anguish and alienation of farmers has arisen because there's been no meaningful information about the true impact on people's livelihoods, and scant guidance on how to interpret an energy project's financial implications - of which there are many - particularly when dissecting the compensation component.
In its submission to the Dyer review, the National Farmers' Federation called for an enforceable code governing engagement, compensation and land access arrangements, and wants it tied to a proponent's ability to access any government finance or policy incentives.
Anything less than a mandatory, financially-binding code will make it impossible for farmers to ever view these projects through any prisms of legitimacy, credibility or trust.
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