8th April, 2021
Source: By Terang Express
Maximise spending: Former Moyne Shire councillor Colin Ryan, RE-Alliance representatives Tony Goodfellow and Lucy Allen, and local Mick Murphy OAM have floated the idea of pooling wind farm funding streams in to one fund to maximise investment in big ticket programs and assets.
Moyne residents have been encouraged to throw their support behind a joint community fund which would collect local grants from wind farms to fund larger priority projects.
Community benefit schemes from wind farms could grow to reach $700,000 per annum in Moyne Shire, which the joint fund would aim to allow for bigger more strategic projects and leverage funding across the shire.
The Australian-first concept launched in 2019 when Moyne Shire Council passed a motion put forward by then-councillor Colin Ryan to facilitate discussion between three wind farm developers (Global Power Generation, Woolnorth Wind Farms and Wind Prospect) to coordinate strategic community funding.
“From the outset my idea was not an endorsement for wind farms, but an endorsement for the way funds are distributed through communities,” Mr Ryan said.
“I was involved with a community engagement committee involved in the distribution of funds from the wind farm, and I could see the communities were basically running out of ideas from which to spend their money after four or five years.
“If this funding is going to be around for 30 years, why not pool this resource and get a much better outcome for the wider community?
“My idea is to make use of the long-term funding for long-time big projects that the whole region benefits from.”
RE-Alliance Victorian coordinator Tony Goodfellow has been tasked with supporting the Moyne region to get the fund up and running, and developing a governance model of what the fund could look like.
He said the general idea would be to establish a community panel from across the region to determine where accrued funding could be best spent.
“Over the life of this project, we’re talking at least $20,000,000 in total wind farm community benefits,” Mr Goodfellow said.
“This is a chance for Moyne residents to dream big and think about what will really make a difference in their lives.
“It is common practice for wind farms to start a fund that allows them to share their annual profits with locals by supporting community groups, such as the CFA, environmental groups or playgroups to deliver projects locals need.
“Pooling these funding streams into a joint program will allow local communities to target programs and assets that will leave a legacy for decades to come.”
Mr Goodfellow said RE-Alliance would begin the first round of community consultation on the fund over the coming months.
“The next step is to lock in decision-making structures for the fund that are fair and transparent so everyone can get behind it,” he said
“What I want to do is start engaging with each wind farm on a coordinated fund.
“I’ll be doing meetings with the wind farm communities as well as listening posts around the community.”
Mortlake’s Mick Murphy said he had seen first-hand the benefit of the region working together with a co-ordinated and co-operative approach.
“I think this is the sort of model which gives significant benefit to the region where there are a lot of people who, and I respect them, but I don’t agree with them, but who don’t agree with wind farms,” he said.
“What we have to do is maximise the benefit for our region, at the same time acknowledging the companies have to get a benefit from what they invest in.
“I’ve been involved in chasing money for a lot of projects around the region, and this sort of model is the best – otherwise you just get the crumbs.
“The way a region progresses is prioritising the things which you really need and working together to get it.”
RE-Alliance hopes to have the fund up and running this year, depending on support for the idea from the community.
For more information on the fund and upcoming opportunities to be involved in community discussions, visit re-alliance.org.au
RE-Alliance formerly known as the Victorian Wind Alliance and Australian Wind Alliance, and national co-ordinator Andrew Bray supported the removal of the 2km wind turbine setback distance from homes.