CEC Enhancing Positive Social Outcomes from Wind Farm Development

Donna Luckman • 13 May 2020

This research report, Enhancing Positive Social Outcomes from Wind Farm Development, was supported by the Clean Energy Council and aims to provide a ‘snapshot’ of current community engagement and benefit sharing practices in Australian wind farms. It provides an evidence base and recommendations for improving social outcomes from wind development for communities, regulators and developers.

Four source documents were created as part of this project:

  • a literature review of 57 publications;
  • 22 in-depth interviews;
  • an online survey of 26 wind industry representatives and
  • analysis of 32 CommunityEn gagement Plans from the wind industry.

This research report collates and summarises the findings of these four reports, from which the
recommendations are elicited.

This report is presented within the context of a complex operating environment for wind development in Australia – one that is highly contingent on local and policy context, resourcing and individual and company capacities and attitudes to community engagement. Wind developer staff
on-ground in communities are seeking to undertake meaningful engagement, while needing to meet a range of requirements associated with the commercial realities of developing large infrastructure projects. Despite this complexity, a shift has begun in the Australian wind industry
towards valuing and practicing better community engagement and benefit sharing.

Initiatives that have assisted to ‘change the game’ include the ACT Government’s Renewable Energy Reverse Auctions (since 2015), which required community engagement as an assessment criteria. Such initiatives have helped to attune investors to community acceptance issues, and
increase the likelihood of power purchase agreements only being signed where there is evidence of positive social outcomes.