Fracking can cause communities to divide with those who will reap some economic benefit pitted against those concerned for the long term viability of their existing businesses, their health, their vital water resources and their environment.
In Queensland this division has seen locals who have been lifelong friends fighting one another over the rights and wrongs of unconventional gas development. The sudden arrival of gas miners seeking access to land has caused stress in many communities. Bullying by gas companies to gain access to prime agricultural land resulted in the suicide of at least one Queensland farmer in 2015.
There are anecdotal reports that even school children in Queensland’s Western Downs are fighting each other over the issue of coal seam gas.
Increased rents in towns close by
The boom and bust nature of the mining industry can create economic issues in local communities and the fracking industry is no exception. Boom and bust housing prices is just one example. During the construction phase of a gasfield demand for rental accommodation from construction workers, ancillary businesses and mining based service industry employees can push local people, not on a resource based income, out of the market and make living in their own home towns no longer affordable.
Towns in Queensland impacted by the sudden boom in coal seam gas mining have seen rents triple overnight.
Fracking takes place in areas where there are already existing industries such as agriculture. Changes in housing affordability that follow a sudden influx of well paid workers needing accommodation, can have a dramatic impact on the social and economic fabric of a town. Teachers, waiters, shop assistants and farm laborers may have to move out of the town due to a spike in rents caused by the sudden increase in demand. Tourism operators may also suffer because short-term accommodation is in such demand that it can price travellers out of the market and they stop coming. These changes in a town can cause social disruption and break down communities.