Australia's clean energy sector has taken an important step in its work with rural and regional communities to deliver jobs and investment, by releasing new wind Community Engagement Best Practice Guidelines and a community expectations guide.
Clean Energy Council (CEC) Chief Executive David Green said the guidelines were designed to encourage greater and more effective consultation with communities where wind farms are proposed.
"The CEC took the lead in developing the guidelines as we strongly believe communities must be actively involved in the process of developing clean energy infrastructure. They need to have effective opportunities to comment and meaningful engagement with the companies proposing local developments, and be part of the journey," Mr Green said.
"The guidelines set down the best-practice standards endorsed by the industry for use when wind companies engage with local communities."
Mr Green congratulated the nine companies that had contributed significant resources to the development of the guidelines: Acciona, AGL, Goldwind, Hydro Tasmania, Infigen, Pacific Hydro, RATCH Australia, REpower and Vestas.
NSW Environment Minister Robyn Parker said New South Wales stood to attract $6.7 billion of investment, translating to 3700 ongoing jobs if all currently proposed wind farms were delivered.
"Delivering a more diverse energy mix requires genuine consultation with local communities in those areas across the state where our energy resources are located," Ms Parker said.
"I am delighted that the Clean Energy Council understands the importance of demonstrating effective and genuine community engagement in the development of wind energy projects."
Mr Green said surveys on community support for wind energy repeatedly showed more than three-quarters of respondents were in favour, including many who lived in areas where wind farms existed or were proposed.
In addition, an SKM survey undertaken last year showed a typical 50 megawatt wind farm pays host farmers some $250,000 a year, is constructed by workers who spend up to $1.2 million locally, and contributes up to $80,000 a year to community projects.
"The guidelines will be a really important tool in continuing to involve communities in projects so all of the benefits of clean energy are shared by everyone," Mr Green said.
The community engagement guidelines can be downloaded from: cleanenergycouncil.org.au/cec/technologies/wind/comm-engage-guidelines
For more information contact Clean Energy Council Media Manager Mark Bretherton on 0413 556 981.
The Clean Energy Council is the peak body for Australia’s clean energy industry, working with more than 600 solar, wind, energy efficiency, energy storage, bioenergy, hydro, cogeneration, geothermal and marine energy businesses. We are committed to accelerating the transformation of Australia’s energy system into one that is smarter, cleaner and more consumer-focused. More information at cleanenergycouncil.org.au.