The Clean Energy Council has launched a new research project with several community support organisations to maximise the benefits of wind farms for local residents and improve community engagement, as dozens of new projects ramp up to meet Australia’s Renewable Energy Target (RET).
Clean Energy Council Policy Manager Alicia Webb said wind power companies need to be actively working on innovative ways to share the benefits of projects and communicate more effectively with their communities.
"A lot of different approaches have been employed over the last decade, from community benefit funds where money is directed to footy clubs and sustainable garden projects, to an approach where residents are given the opportunity to buy a stake in the wind farm itself," Ms Webb said.
"This new project will consider the different approaches to community benefit sharing and community engagement that have been used to date and evaluate which have been the most effective. And it will also look at current international best practice, and which new models could be worth investigating further in Australia."
The Clean Energy Council is partnering with Embark and the Community Power Agency to produce Enhancing Social Outcomes in Wind Development. Both are strong advocates for communities.
Embark Communications and Community Liaison Taryn Lane said she was committed to ensuring the benefits of these major infrastructure projects flowed through to the community level.
"Wind farms provide local job and investment benefits, but it's important to have systems in place that continue to deliver tangible returns for communities long after the construction of a wind farm is over," Ms Lane said.
"A wind farm is part of a community for 20 years or more. This community engagement project is important, because it will identify the most effective systems from across the world to ensure a wind-win for locals."
The Clean Energy Council (CEC) worked with its members to fund and develop a set of best practice community engagement guidelines in 2012 and 2013. The new project will help to ensure the latest innovations in this area are captured and assessed. It is expected to be completed in the first half of 2017.
Please contact Clean Energy Council Communications Manager Laura Szekfy on 0410 277 393 for more information or to arrange an interview.