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We can learn a lot from Tasmania’s Renewable Energy Zone planning process

Tasmania has announced a proposed Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) in the north west of the state.

RE-Alliance, which works with regional communities as they work through the rollout of new renewable energy, said other states and territories could learn a lot from the consultation process that took place in Tasmania.

RE-Alliance National Director Andrew Bray said it was the first example he has seen of a state or territory government putting community engagement at the beginning of a REZ process, and it should become the model for REZ development on the mainland.

“It’s the first proposed REZ in the country that wasn’t put forward until an open, community-focussed process of consultation was completed,” Bray said.

“This means that the first lines on a map weren’t drawn until locals had shared where they would be happy for renewables to go and where they weren’t.”

Tasmania’s Renewables, Climate and Future Industries Tasmania (ReCFIT) department deployed an Australian-first ‘mapping important places’ platform which gathered community views on the places that are important to them, which was then considered alongside the technical, environmental and land use information.

Mr Bray said that the government has already called for expressions of interest for locals to co-design how a community benefit scheme should look. “To do this at the front end of a REZ development process is exactly when it should be happening, and setting up a Community Advisory Board sends entirely the right message,” he said.

Now the proposed REZ has been announced, a new round of consultation has kicked off.

“Putting communities first in the planning process for a REZ is a great start. Now, the government needs to keep up the good work and build the capacity of regional communities in Tasmania to become active participants in the renewable energy rollout.”

“One way of doing this is by recognising the crucial role that Local Councils play as critical stakeholders to support their communities. Local Councils need to be resourced appropriately to engage with Renewable Energy Zones when they’re located within one.”

RE-Alliance acknowledges the important work of the Community Power Agency in developing the ‘Guideline for Community Engagement, Benefit Sharing and Local Procurement’ for renewables in Tasmania which was adopted alongside the North West REZ announcement.

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For media inquiries and interviews please contact Kitty Walker on 0438 900 117 or [email protected]

Andrew Bray is the National Director of RE-Alliance.

RE-Alliance is working to secure an energy transformation that delivers long-term benefits and prosperity for regional and rural Australia. They do this by listening to the needs of communities, facilitating collaboration across the renewables industry to deliver social outcomes and advocating for meaningful engagement and benefits for regions.

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