What is a Community Reference Group?
WestWind Energy recognises that wind farms are not only projects to generate electricity from using renewable energy sources, but they are also social projects, and community engagement is fundamental to delivering positive and effective outcomes for wind projects. Project feasibility often depends on the communities’ level of acceptance, so solid community engagement practices are vital in establishing a wind farm that is mutually beneficial to all stakeholders.
WestWind Energy appreciates that community engagement goes well beyond the requirements necessary under the planning permit, and has adopted engagement strategies that enable the input of community to identify local values and inform the decisions and activities of the project.
As part of our community engagement strategy, a Community Reference Group (CRG) has been established for the Lal Lal Wind Farm and consists of a cross-section of community members. The role of the CRG is to enhance communication between WestWind Energy and the community; enhance WestWind’s understanding of community issues; encourage community partnerships; and, ensure the local community benefits as a result of the wind farm project.
Community Benefit Fund
The Lal Lal Wind Farm aims to support initiatives that strengthen the local community. One of the ways this will be done is via a Community Benefit Fund, which has been established to provide grants for projects that benefit communities located within 5 km of the wind farm. This includes the Lal Lal, Yendon, Elaine, Mt Egerton, Cargerie, Clarendon, Bungaree, Dunnstown and Millbrook areas. Projects must demonstrate community partnerships/collaboration and overall benefit to the community.
This may include funding for local sporting groups, charities, community groups, education, culture, arts and other not-for-profit organisations or other community needs.
This year the Lal Lal Wind Farm provided $20,000 as it moves towards the start of construction, and additional amounts will be made available upon commencement of construction.
Applications for this year’s program have now closed. Fourteen applications for funding were received from community groups – four applications were successful in receiving funding.
- The Bungaree Recreation Reserve – $5,000, to help with the completion of a storage shed for all users of the recreation reserve
- Elaine Cricket Club – $5,661, to replace an oven and provide further storage solutions to house equipment
- Mt Buninyong CFA – $3,678, to help with the purchase of a generator so that the brigade can safely perform its duties by providing lighting when needed
- Dunnstown Netball Club – $5,661, to help replace the existing netball court fence at the Dunnstown Recreation Reserve
Applications for next year’s funding program will open in the new year, with community groups having the chance to apply for a share of $100,000.
Applications were assessed by the Lal Lal Wind Farm Community Reference Group, a group of eight volunteers from around the wind farm site.