Independent expert peer review of the Social Impact Assessment component of the Browse LNG Precinct Strategic AssessmentUndertaken for the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities.Dr Annie Holden, ImpaxSIA Consulting March 2011
Summary FindingsIn relation to the SIA, the interpretation of the results and the assessment itself are inadequate. In particular, in view of the size of the construction workforce (up to 6,000 workers for two years), consideration of likely impacts and impact management associated with construction should be more clearly separated out from likely impacts and impact management during the operational phase. I am also of the view that some negative social impacts that could potentially occur at the margins of the affected communities, associated with the presence of the construction workforce, are either not identified at all or are seriously under-estimated. In relation to the Strategic Social Impact Management Plan, this document needs to be rewritten. It needs to identify overarching principles and objectives, as per a Strategic document, and it needs to be better informed in terms of how best to manage and mitigate impacts, including through possible project design considerations. It is evident that more relevant expertise needs to be brought to the task. Similarly, the monitoring regime needs to be more rigorously developed and the ASIA governance recommendations adopted. While I appreciate that more work will be done on this once a proponent/project commences, this does not obviate the need to at this stage identify appropriate indicators and governance and to set a standard through providing illustrative strategies. The ASIA has more competently addressed this important matter. In relation to the ASIA the report is thorough and comprehensive and, as discussed in more detail in this Review Report, an excellent document in all respects. However, the summary of the ASIA in the KLC Overview document is inadequate and does not include all relevant highlights. It should be more carefully rewritten. Also, the SSIMP does not correctly and adequately incorporate the strategic findings and recommendations of the ASIA.
Peer Review SIA Browse LNG Precinct
AcronymsThe ASIA Aboriginal Social Impact Assessment (Volume 3 Aboriginal Social Impact Assessment Report) EPBC Act FIFO IFPIC KLC LNG NTHs SAR The SIA SIMP The SSIMP STIs TOR UNDRIP Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 Fly in fly out Indigenous Free and Prior Informed Consent Kimberley Land Council Liquefied Natural Gas Native Title Holders Strategic Assessment Report (The entire set of documents and all volumes). Social Impact Assessment (All components of Part 5 Social Assessment) Social Impact Management Plan Strategic Social Impact Management Plan (Volume 3, Part 5) Sexually Transmitted Infections Terms of Reference United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
BackgroundIn February 2008 an agreement between the Australian and the Western Australian Governments was signed under the Strategic Assessment provisions of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act) relating to the selection and management of a site for a common-user liquefied natural gas (LNG) precinct to service the Browse Basin gas reserves off the Kimberley coast, Western Australia. Following a comprehensive site selection process, James Price Point, located some sixty kilometres north of Broome, was selected as the most suitable site to undergo a full assessment. This Peer Review does not include the site selection methodology or process. Under the EPBC Act, the strategic assessment agreement provides direction for the development of a Strategic Assessment Report (the SAR) and Plan. The Minister is required to take into consideration any relevant social and economic impacts resulting from the development. In concert with the public review process, the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities engaged Dr Annie Holden of ImpaxSIA Consulting to undertake an independent expert peer review of the Social Impact Assessment components of the Draft Browse Basin LNG Precinct Strategic Assessment. In undertaking the Review Dr Holden was required to review the Draft Strategic Assessment Report as well as peruse relevant associated background reports.
Peer Review SIA Browse LNG Precinct
CONFIDENTIAL Dr Annie Holden is an Adjunct Associate Professor at Southern Cross University and has undertaken over thirty social impact assessments over the past nearly twenty years across Australia. She has taught in universities and published in social impact assessment methods and purpose. Annie Holden manages the consulting firm ImpaxSIA Consulting which is Australias only dedicated social impact assessment consultancy firm. Annie has drawn on her experiences of similar development projects in this review. Over her extended career Annie has interviewed literally thousands of stakeholders, supervisors, community members, service providers, government officers, company representatives and others who have experience and concerns and aspirations in relation to development projects. It is important to note that the potential negative social impacts on sectors of host communities (as discussed below) associated with the presence of large construction crews are not well researched or documented. Although there is a good deal of evidence to suggest there are significant social impact issues requiring prudent and proactive management, the evidence at this stage is principally anecdotal. The potential social impacts associated with the Project were assessed separately for Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities-of-interest. The West Australian Government project managed and authored the non-Indigenous social impact assessment (the SIA), while the Indigenous impacts were assessed and reported on by the Kimberley Land Council (the ASIA). Both Reports are the subject of this review.
Best Practice SIA MethodologySocial Impact Assessment is a rapidly evolving discipline and even in the last decade has changed significantly, and continues to change, with regard to what is commonly regarded as best practice. Australia, however, is at the leading edge of world best practice social impact assessment. The changes in SIA methods and practice are largely a reflection of changes to the role of SIA. Whereas in many quarters it was traditionally regarded as a desk top activity which was largely the purvey of social planners, SIA has increasingly taken on a wider role as a tool for democracy a way to bring forward voices from the margins into decision-making processes. For this reason social impact assessment increasingly relies less on demographic projections and estimates of demands on services and more on community consultation as its basic methodology and in particular in ensuring that project benefits are available to all parties, or that at least those likely to be disadvantaged by the project are to be compensated. So social impact assessment is principally now about social justice. The International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA) has spent many years compiling best practice principals and methods and the author has been involved in the development of these. These are constantly changing and improving. These principles are attached at Appendix One and are the reference point against which the SIA and ASIA documents are reviewed here. It is noted that Dr Nick Taylor of Taylor Baines and Associates, who is a highly regarded social impact assessment specialist, provided peer review to earlier iterations of the SIA. Dr Taylors December 2010 peer review report made particular reference to demographic profiling issues. His report also notes correctly that there is no single document that defines *best+ practice (pp2). Peer Review SIA Browse LNG Precinct ImpaxSIA Consulting 3
Separate Indigenous and mainstream SIA processesOn another point, Dr Taylors peer review does raise concern that there could be an unnecessary overlap between the two assessments [the SIA and the ASIA] or, more importantly, some aspects falling between the cracks (7.3) and he suggests that For future strategic assessments a shared scoping of issues would help in defining more clearly the role of an ASIA versus a full SIA and enhance integration of the two. (7.3). Dr Taylor also states, however, that he did not have the opportunity to view the ASIA as it was not available at the time he wrote his report. While it might be possible that in future an ASIA team and an SIA team could more closely and regularly brief one another on relevant issues, findings and methods as they progress, mainstream SIAs and Indigenous SIAs in the Australian context are fundamentally different processes, have different purposes (the latter ideally being the basis for negotiation of agreements), are undertaken under different governance arrangements and for different audiences and usually end up dealing with qualitatively different issues. If each is undertaken according to best practice there will be nothing falling between the cracks, and overlap is not a concern since Indigenous and nonIndigenous communities rarely respond and are rarely impacted in exactly the same way by the same event. Furthermore, aligning the consideration and management/mitigation of impacts on Indigenous communities with that of impacts on non-Indigenous communities regularly sees Indigenous stakeholders being marginalized. Therefore, it is my view that the approach used in this instance, where the SIA and ASIA were separate parallel projects, would continue to be the ideal, and Dr Taylors proposal to make the KLC only one of a number of