The Government claims that communities are at the heart of their policy. GDFWatch’s mission is to ensure that remains true.
At the core of the Government’s policy is the principle of ‘consent’: unlike other infrastructure projects, a GDF can only be sited if the affected surface communities agree to host the facility. The policy was set out in a 2014 White Paper.
The Government’s ‘consent-based’ (or ‘voluntarist’) approach, which is line with other countries’ approach and international best practice, places significant decision-making authority in the hands of ordinary people. It is potentially a model of how communities can participate in the shaping of their own social, economic and environmental destiny, creating a democratic process which allows long-term decisions to be made outside of, and unfettered by, the traditional political cycle of local elections.
Although there is no formal role for local authorities in the siting process, it is almost certainly true that no community can enter into formal discussions about hosting a GDF unless the proposal fits within the relevant local councils’ long term development plan for their area. Local authorities and politicians will undoubtedly be members of any community ‘partnership’, alongside RWM and representatives from the wider local community.
The Government’s plans for community engagement and participation are complex. GDFWatch will seek to explain those plans to communities, ensuring that communities understand their rights and obligations, and are aware of what information and support they can ask for to successfully ensure they drive the programme forward constructively.
There is significant funding available to communities throughout the process, and the Government have committed to ensuring that all costs of engaging in the process are borne by RWM, not by the community.
GDFWatch is here to support communities throughout this process, offering independent advice and information, helping people understand and engage with these complex issues.