Renewable energy projects will be at risk unless governments and companies conduct proper consultation with regional communities and provide local benefits, warns a new report.
The Renewables & Rural Australia report, by the Australia Institute and the University of Sydney’s Sydney Environment Institute, recommends strengthening the social licence of renewable initiatives by improving local social and economic outcomes.
Wednesday’s report argues that there needs to be better recognition that Australia’s shift from coal to renewable energy is not just economic and technological in nature, but also spatial. It found moving electricity generators to rural communities that had not hosted energy utilities at scale before brings physical and social changes.
One of the report’s co-authors, Dr Rebecca Pearse from the Australian National University, said regional Australia was doing the country a “terrific service” by hosting the shift to renewable energy.
“So we need to make sure those communities have the mechanisms to negotiate beneficial deals for themselves,” Pearse said.