Report finds community engagement key to wind farm success

The Clean Energy Council has released a research report that sets out ways to enhance community engagement across the wind industry.

The independent report, Enhancing Positive Social Outcomes from Wind Farm Development ,

was funded by the Clean Energy Council and 11 wind companies to determine the most effective ways for developers to approach community engagement and benefit sharing.

It found that each community engagement and benefit sharing approach should be tailored to a community’s needs and expectations, and that there was no standard formula that could or should be applied to all projects. It also found that there was no substitute for face-to-face engagement by the developer with the community.

Lead author Jarra Hicks said it was the most rigorous and in-depth research to be done at this scale in Australia.

“The Australian wind industry is now leading other energy developments nationwide and has become the benchmark for good practice,” she said.

Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Kane Thornton said wind developers recognised that community support was essential to the success of the industry as a whole, and the industry had made this a large focus of how it went about planning and developing projects.

“Developers who invest time and effort to build relationships with their communities based on trust and respect are those that are most likely to be embraced by their communities. The report shows that this is far more important than employing any particular initiatives such as consultation committees, neighbour payments or grant funds,” Mr Thornton said.

The report also found that community engagement guidelines developed by the Clean Energy Council in 2012, and governments in more recent times, had been widely adopted by the industry.

Mr Thornton said that wind farms under construction or poised to start at the beginning of 2018 add up to more than $6.2 billion of investment and around 2000 direct new jobs. Enhancing Positive Social Outcomes from Wind Farm Development and associated briefing papers are available here

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