AusNet need to partner with the community in every aspect of planning, development and decision making, including the development of alternatives and the identification of a preferred solution. Community engagement key to the success of any major infrastructure project and is most successful when it establishes and delivers on clear expectations and gives people the opportunity to influence decisions.
Social license is another thing again: the informal “license” granted to a company by various stakeholders who may be affected by the company’s activities. Such a license is based on trust and confidence – hard to win, easy to lose.
The social license to operate is made up of three components: legitimacy, credibility, and trust.
Legitimacy: this is the extent to which an individual or organisation plays by the ‘rules of the game’. That is, the norms of the community, be they legal, social, cultural, formal or informal in nature.
Credibility: this is the individual or company’s capacity to provide true and clear information to the community and fulfil any commitments made.
Trust: this is the willingness to be vulnerable to the actions of another. It is a very high quality of relationship and takes time and effort to create.
To regain its Social License to Operate, AusNet need to place decision-making in the hands of the community and implement what the community decides, not use old technology and present alternative corridors that do not minimise impacts and simply do not work.