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Competing Perceptions of the Rural Idyll: responses to threats from coal seam gas development in Gloucester, NSW, Australia

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Threats to rural livelihoods and rural landscapes have increased over time as developed nations in particular look for cheaper and more locally based alternatives to traditional energy sources to drive national economies. In New South Wales, through the expansion of coal mines and coal seam gas (CSG), small towns such as Gloucester on the edge of the Upper Hunter are faced with competing visions which seek to redefine their future. Powerful and competing discourses over land use threaten not only the sustainability of the region but the integrity of its sense of place, centred on community, rurality, agricultural production and confrontation of risk from mining. The different discourses of local groups such as ‘tree-changers’, established residents and farmers conflict with those of external organisations such as the State government and mining/CSG companies which envisage Gloucester as a ‘balanced’ space of co-existence and position it as a new node in the carbon supply chain.
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Keywords: Coal seam gas; Gloucester; community; rural idyll; strategic planning

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Newcastle, Australia

Publication date: April 3, 2014

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