Community perspectives on the introduction of biodiesel production in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa
This paper presents the outcomes of a questionnaire survey to ascertain the perspectives of local communities on the proposal to construct a large-scale biodiesel production facility in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa, with feedstock supply to the production facility from the former communal homelands of the Province. A total of 303 questionnaires were administered through interactions with the communities that are expected to be a part of the feedstock production supply chain by visiting households and having in-depth interviews, and through a focus group discussion. Opinions were found to be overwhelmingly against the proposed biodiesel production supply chain. The concerns of local people varied, but the major issues were land availability as this is regarded as their identity; infrastructure development; associated pollution (air and water) posing serious health risk; doubts about the credibility of the developers; food security; and the distortion of the social fabric of the local communities. In general, local people felt that they were excluded from the project development and were asked to accept industrial scale development that will further lead to the impoverishment of the communities. The results also highlighted how large-scale plants may be affected by the local dynamics of perceptions; the willingness to partake in the supply chain was informed by personal, social and institutional factors and beliefs, as well as internal conflicts, due to perceived environmental, social and ecological risks, that were aggravated by miscommunication and the lack of understanding. The paper is deemed useful for policy makers to understand why communities may object to relatively large bioenergy projects, and to assist the developers of such projects to avoid delays and refusal of planning consent that can be associated with adverse local opinions. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.