RE-Alliance applauds the QREZ model as one that can support a just transition for communities living and working in renewable energy regions.
We broadly support the measures proposed in the QREZ Technical Discussion Paper: Delivering Queensland Renewable Energy Zones, and have responded to a number of questions from the technical paper in detail.
We urge the Queensland Government to adopt more ambitious near-term targets of 6GW renewable energy by 2025 and develop a QREZ system that is scalable to ensure Queensland captures the most value from the energy transformation.
RE-Alliance is particularly supportive of the Queensland Government developing an energy plan to be released in 2022 containing a QREZ Local Benefits and Social Licence Strategy. We are pleased to see how seriously the Queensland Government is taking issues of social licence, including through it’s recent Local Benefits in Queensland Renewable Energy Zones Consultation Paper and accompanying survey.
In our submission to that consultation paper and in our recent paper, Building Trust for Transmission, we highlighted the need for genuine and ongoing engagement with local communities. We also recommended increased payment arrangements for landholders involved with new transmission infrastructure, neighbour payments, and community benefit funds for locally affected communities.
This submission also highlights significant risks we see emerging in the delivery of Queensland REZs and identifies some pathways to mitigate these.
In particular, we focus on the risks associated with renewables development in high biodiversity conservation areas, with the Northern QREZ under the spotlight.
Central to our recommendations is the establishment of a robust access scheme that will enable the planning body to create a race-to-the-top industry environment that prioritises projects based on their commitment to local community, Traditional Owner, and environmental outcomes.
We commend the Queensland Government on its transparent and consultative approach to QREZ design and look forward to further engaging in the process as it is further developed.