Central West Orana Renewable Energy Zone Consultation isn't there
The Government is not engaging in genuine consultation, and community concerns are not being reflected in the planning and outcomes of the Central-West Orana REZ, according to Member for Barwon, Roy Butler MP.
“Communities out West are the frontline of NSW’s renewable future. It is necessary that the government engage with these communities and have meaningful and genuine consultation that is reflected in the planning outcomes,” said Mr Butler.
“I have had people contact my office who are directly involved with the REZ and who are in a state of confusion over the consultation and lack of transparency.
“My constituents are sick of decisions being made for them in the city by those who do not understand the distance, the climate, the disadvantage, the access, the communities, and the culture. Its making communities frustrated, and that is quickly becoming anger,” Mr Butler said.
Mr Butler has written to The Hon. Penny Sharpe MLC, Minister for Climate Change, requesting a briefing on the $128 million Employment and Benefit fund for the Central-West Orana Renewable Energy Zone.
“I want to ensure that these communities have a say in where that $128 million goes. But I have growing concerns that the consultation process is not up to standard.” Mr Butler said.
Mr Butler’s concerns include the lack of transparency from EnergyCo when conducting the consultation sessions, with some attending unsure of who was running the session and what the information was intended for.
The vetting and selection of certain attendees and an alleged offer of $100 to attend the session. Other community members were deemed ineligible to participate in consultation on unknown criteria.
"The fund’s purpose is to mitigate the negative impacts REZs will have on bush communities. Genuine consultation is the only way to achieve that. Handpicking and paying those who attend these sessions makes the entire consultation artificial and unreflective of the needs or views of the community,” said Mr Butler.
“We need to utilise local knowledge, not ignore it. Barwon and Regional NSW can have significant opportunities with Renewable Energy Zones. If these communities are involved in the process, it could mean long-term benefits for towns and regional cities that have been overlooked in the past.
“Both sides of politics voted for the Electricity Infrastructure Investment Act 2020. This Act set in motion the REZs- which means these projects are legislated and will go ahead, whether we like it or not. Now, it is critical that we ensure our bush communities have a say in their futures.
The need for transparency and genuine community consultation by major project proponents remains.
“Our small bush communities, by virtue of the legislation, become integral to the future of emission reduction targets and renewable energy. Involving these communities in this process should be a bare minimum,” Mr Butler said.