A new research report published by the Australian Clean Energy Council provides a diverse range of ideas in an attempt to set a new standard of excellence for community engagement across the country’s wind energy industry.
Albany Wind Farm, Western Australia
The Enhancing Positive Social Outcomes from Wind Farm Development report, written by Jarra Hicks, Taryn Lane, Emily Wood and Nina Hall, aims to reflect the wind industry’s commitment to adopting best practice in the area of community engagement. It was launched yesterday by the CEC at the Wind Industry Forum in Melbourne, where a CEC event aimed to attract the attention of technical specialists.
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.
“This is the most rigorous and in-depth research to be done at this scale in Australia” said lead author Jarra Hicks. “The findings are independent and provide useful insights and direction for industry, government and communities. The Australian wind industry is now leading other energy developments nationwide and has become the benchmark for good practice”.
Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Kane Thornton added that wind developers recognise that community support is essential to the success of the industry as a whole and that the industry has made this a large focus of how it goes about planning and developing projects.
“The wind industry has made a concerted effort in recent years to lift the quality of its community engagement practices, and this focus is reflected in a reduction in complaints made by community members over time” said Thornton.
The research report 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.