Community Engagement Summary
A Community and Stakeholder Engagement Report has been prepared by OSMI Australia which outlines the consultation approach and extensive engagement activities that have been undertaken to date for the Project.
The consultation strategy for the Project has been based on IAP2’s Public Participation Spectrum listed in the Victorian Government Guidelines.
The Delburn Wind Farm is committed to a transparent community engagement and information sharing program. This includes early engagement with the local community, a holistic benefit sharing model based on sharing the profits of the wind farm fairly with project neighbours and members of the surrounding local communities and seeking to create a positive long-term legacy in the region.
Key components of OMSI’s approach included:
- Early engagement, including announcing the project at concept development stage.
- Establishing a local project office and information centre in the predevelopment phase.
- Transparent information sharing.
- Co-development of a Community Benefits Scheme including:
- neighbour profit sharing;
- community development fund; and
- community co-investment opportunities.
- Committing to employing local, long-term staff and local procurement processes.
- Establishing sustainable community engagement mechanisms for the operational life of the project.
- Establishing a Community and Stakeholder Consultation Committee which is intended to be responsible for facilitating the accurate and timely flow of information about the project’s development to and from the community and assist in obtaining feedback and making decisions about aspects of the project which may impact on the wind farm’s neighbours and wider community.
- To involve the local community in decisions around the specific nature and delivery of the community benefits scheme.
Overview of Consultation and Engagement Activities
OSMI has provided a range of different opportunities and pathways for the community immediately surrounding the project and across the broader region to engage with the project team over the past 18 months since the project announcement, allowing the community to gather information, raise questions or concerns and to express their views about the project.
Early engagement included:
- media announcements of the Project;
- preparation of and regular updates of website material;
- public survey available on website;
- employment of a local Community Engagement Officer;
- project office and information centre opened in the local community in May 2019;
- three postal mailouts to surrounding community the initial notification to all households within 3 kilometres of the project and subsequently two mail outs to the four post codes intersecting the project;
- presentation to councils, MPs, interest groups and sustainability groups;
- publication of regular e-news for subscribers;
- media releases at key project milestones;
- technical documents published on the project website;
- establishment of a complaints process;
- home visits to neighbours;
- five public information days held in surrounding communities
- tours of an operating wind farm;
- visual impact assessments from individual residences.
Overview of Key Issues Raised
On the basis of community engagement undertaken to date, the key issues of concern to the community are:
- Audible Noise;
- Health impacts from infrasound;
- Fire risk;
- Impact to property values;
- Visual impacts; and
- Ecological impacts, in particular impacts on raptors and native vegetation.
The community engagement found that there are a small number of passionate local sustainable energy advocates who support the project, a small number of passionate and highly vocal local opponents to the project as well as a significant number of people who are mildly concerned or supportive of the project but very quiet about their opinion as they don’t want to become involved in conflict within the community.
There are also large number of people who appear undecided or neutral – many of this last group have expressed a view that the project is likely to proceed and acknowledge the benefits of a transition to more sustainable forms of energy production.
The report notes that, regionally, there are numerous advocates of the project who consider it a vital contributor in transitioning from Latrobe Valley’s economic reliance on coal fired power.
There also segments of the community who wish to continue pursuing the economic potential of the Latrobe Valley coal reserves, some of whom are also opposed to renewable energy projects.
It is a statutory requirement of the planning permit application that OSMI provide direct notification to all adjoining properties (as directed by DELWP) and provide community members with information on how they can lodge submissions to the Project.
In addition to fulfilling statutory requirements, OSMI is committed to supporting and informing the community throughout the planning process.
Accordingly, during the planning permit evaluation process, OSMI will:
- continue to engage with local residents, neighbours and the broader regional community through face to face meetings, phone calls, email, and house visits;
- offer presentations to community interest and activity groups;
- conduct further Augmented Reality visual assessments as requested;
- continue to keep local governments, residents and other stakeholder informed of progress;
- through the regular release of e-newsletters, social media posts and print media releases;
- hold stalls at local markets and community events to provide information to community members and opportunities for more conversations;
- establish the Community and Stakeholder Consultative Committee; and
- open up the pre-development fund for applications, allowing corporate involvement in positive projects in the area to commence.
Community Benefits Scheme
A Community Benefits Scheme will be designed to deliver benefits to key stakeholders in the community in a way that aims to meet their needs and aspirations. The scheme was launched towards the later end of the early engagement phase, will continue for the life of the project and will be codesigned with the community.
The Community Benefits Scheme will comprise:
- Neighbour Profit Sharing to deliver ~$500,000 per annum directly to the Project’s near neighbours (2-3 kilometres from the Project);
- a Community Development Fund to deliver ~ $150,000 per annum ($750 per MW) via a Community Development Fund; and
- a Community Co-investment vehicle to allow the community to invest in the project and receive annual returns from the project.
It is noted that the Community Benefits Scheme does not include other economic contributions such as:
- required activities under any permit conditions such as visual screening;
- annual contributions to local council via Payment In Lieu of Rates;
- host landowner payments; and
- the value of local jobs, expenditure and investment.
Following the granting of statutory approvals, the focus of community engagement will move to the recruitment of a local contractors and workforce for the construction of the project and establishing mechanisms to keep the community informed about key project activities.
Through the detailed design and construction phase issues such as micro siting, emergency response planning, the development of the interpretive centre (including the incorporation of stories about the local cultural heritage) and wind farm walks will be covered in community consultation forums. Further landscape assessments will be competed with individual landowners who have concerns about visual impacts and landscape screening plans developed as appropriate.
Throughout this phase the Community and Stakeholder Engagement Committee will form a key conduit for engagement with the wider community.
The information centre and office will remain in operation and on-line engagement will continue.