This paper assesses challenges for social impact assessment (SIA) for coastal and offshore infrastructure projects, using the case study of the Tomakomai Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Demonstration Project in Hokkaido, Japan. Interest in SIA and linked concepts such as social licence to operate is growing, yet marine environments also have potential to raise additional complexity in project governance. Drawing on qualitative research conducted in Tomakomai and Japan more widely across the project development and implementation phase, the paper argues that building an understanding of the social, cultural and historical relationship between the community, industry and the sea is crucial to understanding the neutral or cautiously supportive response of the citizens and stakeholders in Tomakomai to the project. Moreover, effective SIA in coastal regions needs to find a way to account for – or at least make visible – these complex relations between society and the sea. Based on the findings, it is suggested that developers or policymakers overseeing SIA in coastal regions ought to pay extra attention to the extent to which developments like CCS are viewed by communities as 'new' as opposed to a continuation of existing activities in the sea; to the importance of engagement on monitoring during the project operations phase; and to the non-economic values such as pride and identity which communities and stakeholders may derive from the sea.
- Carbon dioxide capture and storage
- Coastal communities
- Social impact assessment
- Social licence to operate
- Tomakomai CCS Demonstration Project