The energy sector, the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, is a major focus of government climate change mitigation policies. To this end, lower-carbon infrastructure (LCI) developments are likely to increase. However, oppositional local social networks regularly slow or halt LCI proposals during the public participation processes conducted during planning. Using social capital as a conceptual lens, an analytical framework is developed with the aim of improving current understanding of local resistance. Specifically, the framework analyses the lifecycle of social networks through two case studies that explore resistance to a wind farm and a gas-fired power plant. The analysis identifies reasons for the formation, operation, dissipation, and endurance of the social networks. The article is relevant to public participation processes in natural resource management and infrastructure proposals in the rural and outer urban fringe.