In recent years, the Australian wind industry has learned that community engagement is just as critical when designing a new wind farm as turbine location or wind modelling.
Ensuring that the local community supports a new wind farm and shares in its benefits often plays a key role in the successful development of a project.
A striking example of this theory being put into practice comes from the Dundonnell Wind Farm in western Victoria, where Tilt Renewables implemented an extensive benefit-sharing plan to create an enduring positive legacy in the local community surrounding the wind farm.
The plan included the installation of a community mini-grid, a fund to improve road safety, support for local not-for-profit organisations, community groups and mental health providers, a major contribution towards safe housing for women fleeing domestic violence, and education funding for residents.
The benefit-sharing plan was a result of extensive consultation with the local community, which identified a number of key local challenges, including mental health, an ageing population, sustainable local employment and the accessibility of education.
The resulting plan was extremely successful as it took a considered approach to ensure that it addressed the chief concerns raised by the local community. In addition to maintaining the wind farm’s social licence in the region, the benefit-sharing plan will create a lasting legacy by helping to prevent suicide, support vulnerable communities and create education opportunities for local residents.
The outstanding work done by Tilt Renewables at the Dundonnell Wind Farm was recognised with the Community Engagement Award at the 2020 Clean Energy Council Awards.