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Abstract

Unconventional coal seam gas extraction is expanding rapidly in the renowned agricultural region of the Darling Downs in Queensland, Australia. These developments have given rise to substantial conflict, including the emergence of a national and vocal anti-coal seam gas movement. This paper examines the Darling Downs region and social impact research with regard to coal seam gas developments. It addresses disputes about coal seam gas on the basis of anthropological perspectives with regard to social dynamics and the concept of community, with examples derived from ongoing anthropological fieldwork, including interviews and observations in the area over the past eighteen months. Two specific documents are commented on, including the recent Queensland guideline for social impact assessments (SIA), and the SIA for Arrow Energy’s Surat Gas Project. The paper suggests areas of possible improvement and argues that complex social dynamics and the notion of community should be more carefully considered in SIA.

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