Renewable Developers Put On Notice

The anticipated Community Engagement Review from Andrew Dyer has been recently released.

It is a damning report on the manner in which some developers have been treating communities and landholders.

We have contributed to this report through a written submission, as well as a face-to-face meeting in September 2023 by members of Voice for Walcha.

It was with encouragement that we read through the 9 recommendations, the first two themes dealing with our primary concerns with the experiences we have had in Walcha.

Our strongest message that we have been delivering to the Planning Department, Energy Co and to Andrew Dyer directly, has been;

Extract from the Review

Things should improve for the community of Walcha that has already felt the fracturing repercussions from developers that the report has identified as being problematic. It is refreshing to see an important report that admonishes the poor behaviour that we all knew was not right.

Extract from the Review

Part of the review was a survey, and the leading questions was;

"Do you currently, or are you expecting to, host renewable energy infrastructure on your property?"

Approximately 50 out of the 250 answered yes - ie, around 20% were, or expected to be, land hosts.

By deduction, 80% were not.

Later in the report, a number of other questions were asked, around the subject of satisfaction with dealings with the developers. The responses from these questions ranged through 92%, 85%, 89%, 85%, 90%, 89%, 93% as dissatisfied. Bottom line, a significant proportion of land hosts are also dissatisfied with the performance of the developers.

Significantly, the review also asked "whether the local community would benefit from large scale renewable energy projects." The following responses were measured.

Extract from the Review

Only 9% of ALL respondents felt there was community benefit. Remember that 20% of respondents were turbine hosts.

Importantly, from the numbers above, we could assume that none of the non-hosts, and less than half of the turbine hosts - felt that there was any community benefit.

Read that again, it is significant.

This alone is a damning statistic, and one that we would love Walcha Council to measure, and to acknowledge.

If there is no broad community benefit, even in the eyes of over half of the turbine hosts, why are we facilitating this poorly designed and located development in the Walcha LGA.

We would prefer to see a broader study of the cumulative impacts or cost benefit analysis of large scale renewable projects in the Walcha LGA. This could cover all aspects – social, environmental, economic.

We feel that this is the first question to ask, before looking at impacts of only one component of a project, such as a "donga village" in the Walcha district.

Make sure our voice is heard.

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