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Farmers’ forum explores community benefits of renewable energy

Media Release - 24th November 2017

Seventy farmers from the Kentucky, Bendemeer, Woolbrook and Walcha communities gathered at the Kentucky Memorial Hall on Thursday night to hear speakers on community involvement in wind farms and large scale solar projects.

Organised by the community advocacy group for wind, the Australian Wind Alliance, and the NSW government’s Renewable Energy Advocate, the forum put the focus on local communities - how they can secure financial benefits from the renewable energy boom that is occurring in the New England.

“All stakeholders need to work together to get their fair share of the enormous community wide benefits that can flow from wind and solar projects”, said AWA National Coordinator Andrew Bray.

“Embracing the shift to renewables will create significant growth in jobs and investment for regional communities, just like we’re seeing in Glen Innes and Inverell,” explained Mr Bray.

“Communities working together and engaging with proponents will lead to better communication and benefit sharing.”

The National Wind Farm Commissioner, Andrew Dyer, brought a nation-wide perspective to the event, sharing his knowledge of how wind farms have addressed these issues in other states.

An engaged audience produced a lively Q&A session. Attendees were interested in how to form their co-operative groups to get the best possible outcome for their community.

“We found that people were particularly interested in effective communication with renewable energy proponents, including through Community Consultative Committees”, said Australian Wind Alliance’s NSW Organiser, Charlie Prell.

Mr Prell explained how this structure works and emphasised that it is critical for the whole community to work through these complex issues collectively. “If a community group gets a good outcome then all the individuals in a community will get the best outcome at the same time,” he said.

“Small towns right around NSW and Australia are already reaping the benefits of renewable energy projects. We are eagerly looking forward to the time when the communities in the New England region add their name to this list”, he said.

“The renewables boom can repeat the fabled wool boom of the 1950’s, but this unique opportunity will last for decades, instead of just years. It can revitalise regional Australia and the small communities that exist there.”

For further information contact: Andrew Bray 0434 769 463 or Charlie Prell 0427 224 839

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