Energy developers need to work better with landholders and community members with a report finding major opposition to renewables.
Far from isolated cases of ‘NIMBYism’, the final report from the Australian Energy Infrastructure Commissioner’s Community Engagement Review found 92 per cent of landholders and community members were unhappy with consultation on renewable energy projects planned for rural and regional NSW.
Commissioned by Energy Minister Chris Bowen, the report also found a national transition to renewable energy would not succeed without effective community participation in infrastructure developments.
NSW Farmers Energy Transition Working Group chair Reg Kidd said farmers had not been fairly consulted by energy developers and bore the brunt of the nation’s switch to more renewable sources of power.
“This tells us what we’ve known for a long time, there is a shocking lack of consultation we’ve seen in farming regions to date around these renewable projects,” Mr Kidd said.
“The sheer number of recommendations demonstrates the extent of this failure to properly engage rural Australia in decisions that will directly affect their livelihoods and ability to produce enough food to sustain our growing population.”
While Mr Kidd welcomed the report’s efforts to suggest ways forward in improving community consultation on renewable energy projects, he warned serious action must be taken to prevent further damage to rural communities.
“We need to see real action taken by the government to properly plan how we can achieve this transition to renewable energy, without destroying food producing land or paving over our iconic landscapes,” Mr Kidd said.
“Farmers are on the front line of a fight to protect not only our most productive farmland, but our rural communities, from the effects of this poor planning for our state’s energy supply – and we’re seeing little concrete action from governments to stop the damage.
“Tangible actions such as implementing a mandatory code of conduct for transmission and large-scale renewable projects, and creating an integrated development plan for renewable energy, are what we really need to see progress on before it’s too late.”