• Principle 1: Genuine and ongoing engagement

    supporting image

    Demonstrate a tailored, long-term, and inclusive approach to engaging with the community to help ensure QREZ development ‘involves’ rather than ‘happens’ to local communities. Community voices should have an opportunity to be heard and their interests and concerns must be listened to and mitigated where feasible.

    Renewable energy development presents an additional opportunity for investment and jobs in Queensland’s regions with the construction of generation and transmission infrastructure and supporting industries.

    It is important to recognise that while these developments bring an opportunity to renew regional areas - by providing jobs, renewable electricity, and value-added industries - ill-considered development may also cause unintended impacts in communities.

    Previous research by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) from 2017 demonstrates that community concerns can cover a wide range of issues, including scepticism about the reliability of renewables, concerns about visual or environmental impacts, views on the economic and employment impacts of renewable development, worries about health impacts, and concerns around expansion of transmission infrastructure. There are also growing concerns about competing land uses as the footprint of the renewable energy sector expands.

    Planning and engagement processes

    Early engagement is critical to ensuring communities are genuinely part of the development process, and that areas of common concern are identified. Engagement needs to be treated as an ongoing part of renewable energy and transmission development; it cannot be left to fall away after initial approvals are secured. It is important that engagement captures the diversity of voices and opinions that make up a local community, with people from a diversity of age, ability and cultural backgrounds having the opportunity to have their say.

    It is also critical that engagement reaches local Traditional Owners and First Nations peoples. This should include opportunities to engage Indigenous businesses to support genuine economic participation of local Indigenous people in renewable energy development. Tools such as Black Business Finder - Queensland’s online business directory for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses, can help connect companies and Indigenous businesses.

    The Queensland Government is committed to ensuring the planning and engagement processes for large-scale renewable projects are of the highest standard. The state has established a state planning code for wind farm developments which was based upon national and international best practice.

    The code provides a consistent, coordinated, whole- of-government approach to assessing and regulating wind farm development which puts in place strict guidelines to address community concerns including acoustic management, landscape character, matters of environmental significance, scenic amenity and impacts on local infrastructure.

    Solar farm applications, as with all large-scale development proposals, can also generate significant interest within the community. Generally, these developments will require a development approval under the Planning Act 2016 with an application made to the local council who will assess the proposal against the requirements of the local planning scheme.

    As part of the development assessment process, the local council will consider the suitability of the site; the proposal’s design, layout, and appearance; and impose conditions that must be complied with during construction and operation. There is often opportunityfor the public to lodge a submission to the proposal as part of statutory public consultation.

    The Queensland Government has also released solar farm guidelines for communities, landholders and project proponents about best practice at each stage of a project development cycle. It provides guidance about development assessment and approvals, as well as the community engagement process.

    Transmission upgrades - engagement

    Delivery of QREZ will require investment in the transmission infrastructure network to connect renewable energy resources to homes and businesses. A key objective of the Energy Security Board’s REZ planning rules that were accepted by Energy Ministers in May 2021 was for transmission planners to engage with local communities so that social licence issues are understood at an earlier stage in the transmission planning process.

    Powerlink Queensland, the Queensland Government’s state-owned transmission company, undertakes extensive consultation with affected landholders and other stakeholders when determining the most appropriate location for new or augmented transmission infrastructure.

    Powerlink follows a staged process, from preliminary discussions with potentially affected landholders, all the way through to operation and maintenance of the asset. The steps in Powerlink’s landholder engagement and planning approval process are set out in its network development process.

    In future, new QREZ renewable energy and transmission infrastructure could create new concerns for communities about the cumulative impact of development. This is why genuine and ongoing engagement is a proposed principle of QREZ to inform how this development is delivered and local benefits generated. It will be important to work closely with communities on how this infrastructure is planned and developed in the long-term to address concerns.

    Have your say

    Complete the survey and tell us what you think about the proposed local benefit principles.

    Find out more

    Read about the other proposed local benefit principles:

  • Principle 2: Shared benefits with communities

    supporting image

    Identify opportunities to engage with and share the financial and other benefits of the development with the local community throughout the project’s lifecycle.

    Benefit sharing is distributing, or sharing, the financial and other benefits of a renewable energy development with the local community and other stakeholders.

    Benefit sharing activities aim to engage community members in close proximity to the development, as well as other nearby residents.

    Benefit sharing is integral to a community’s sense of fairness and ensures that the economic benefits of renewable energy development are distributed relative to the potential impact of the project on the local community. Benefits therefore need to be proportionate with the scale of the project and the level of change or disturbance experienced by the community, but they do not necessarily have to be direct compensatory payments.

    Benefits offered should be negotiated with communities in good faith, with transparent, open and respectful negotiations between developers and all impacted stakeholders. There is a wide range of benefits that can be shared with communities, or activities that can be funded and supported through renewable energy development.

    Benefit sharing mechanisms

    The avenues by which benefits are shared with communities, landowners and local investors are typically referred to as benefit sharing mechanisms.

    Examples of benefit sharing mechanisms include:

    • payments to host landholders
    • contributions to councils
    • community enhancement funds that provide grants to local groups, which may be managed by the renewable developers, community representatives or local councils
    • sponsorship of local community organisations and/or legacy community benefit initiatives
    • neighbourhood benefit programs (including neighbour payments or solar photovoltaic (PV) installations)
    • beyond compliance level activities associated with visual amenity (e.g. tree planting or screening)
    • innovative products (including community energy efficiency programs)
    • innovative financing (including co-investment and co-ownership opportunities).

    Coordinated benefit sharing

    Coordinated QREZ development in a particular region means that there will be several projects delivered in that area over time. Under current arrangements each project would take a different approach to sharing benefits with local communities proportionate to their project impact.

    If the benefit sharing mechanisms were coordinated across projects participating in a QREZ, the community could see greater benefits. This could allow resources to be pooled and benefits for communities scaled proportionate to the level of investment the QREZ represents. This could take different forms such as setting different benchmarks for community benefit schemes or combining funds with a greater level of community control over the outcomes.

    Have your say

    Complete the survey and tell us what you think about the proposed local benefit principles.

    Find out more

    Read about the other proposed local benefit principles:

  • Principle 3: Buy local, build local

    supporting image

    Prioritise local procurement, manufacturing, and supply chain opportunities. Work with local businesses to enable and support their involvement.

    During QREZ development, benefits can be shared with local communities by increasing the level of locally sourced goods and services. Procurement practices should prioritise local, regional, state and Australian content with a focus on manufacturing and supply chain opportunities.

    Manufacturers and other related businesses will have more confidence to invest in local Queensland-based operations if they see a consistent pipeline of clean energy infrastructure locally via QREZ developments.

    Many renewable energy projects are already finding opportunities to increase local content, including engaging with the surrounding business communities earlier in the project lifecycle to better understand the opportunities to meet project needs with locally sourced providers.

    Local content - government policies and approaches

    To ensure a pipeline of opportunities for local businesses, some jurisdictions are implementing targeted policies to ensure local content is an explicit consideration of new renewable energy and transmission projects.

    In Victoria, local content is required for renewable energy projects that are developed as part of the Victorian reverse auctions for meeting legislated renewable energy targets. In New South Wales a manufacturing taskforce has been established to investigate the use of local materials in REZ projects. The taskforce includes representatives from the steel, aluminium, cement, manufacturing industries and associated trade unions. In Western Australia (WA) a Local Industry Participation Group has been established, including steel manufacturing and union representatives. The WA Government is investigating local wind turbine component manufacturing.

    Other approaches seek to reduce the barriers for renewable projects increasing their levels of local content. This includes mechanisms that assist in matching project needs with local capabilities such as using online platforms which connect buyers and suppliers. Projects also choose to blend local content with complex imported technologies, for example, hybrid wind towers that incorporate locally fabricated wind tower segments with imported blade and turbine technology.

    A focus on the supply chain of renewable technologies should also consider opportunities to support implementation of Queensland’s Waste Management and Resource Recovery Strategy to utilise recycled, recyclable, and low-carbon materials and to apply circular economy principles. This includes appropriate early planning for project decommissioning and land rehabilitation.

    Procurement policy

    The Queensland Government’s Buy Queensland Procurement Policy 2021 (QPP) aims to increase the use of local workforces in projects, ensuring Queenslanders, particularly in regional and remote communities, are supported through targeted Government investment.

    Queensland government-owned energy corporations have driven more than 2,000 MW of renewable energy projects in the last five years, either through direct investment or via financial offtake arrangements.

    As major construction and infrastructure developments funded by Queensland Government investment, renewable energy projects could trigger several key requirements in the QPP, including the application of Best Practice Principles for all major projects (where the project is valued $100 million and above, or declared), requiring the use of contractors and suppliers, including manufacturers, that employ local workforces, and providing opportunities for apprentices and trainees. These Best Practice Principles ensure quality, safe workplaces by expecting:

    • workplace health and safety systems and standards
    • commitment to apprentices and trainees
    • best practice industrial relations.

    The Queensland Government’s $2 billion Renewable Energy and Hydrogen Jobs Fund allows government-owned energy businesses like Powerlink Queensland, CleanCo Queensland, Stanwell, CS Energy and Energy Queensland to increase ownership of commercial renewable energy and hydrogen projects, as well as supporting infrastructure, including in partnership with the private sector.

    This provides a future opportunity to ensure the QPP Best Practice Principles are applied to more renewable energy developments.

    Have your say

    Complete the survey and tell us what you think about the proposed local benefit principles.

    Find out more

    Read about the other proposed local benefit principles:

  • Principle 4: Local jobs and secure work

    supporting image

    Prioritise the development and employment of local people wherever possible and embed improved employment standards to ensure secure work.

    The long-term development of the Northern, Central and Southern QREZ provides the opportunity to create thousands of jobs and training opportunities for workers in Queensland’s regions. To support delivery of this principle, generation, and transmission projects within QREZ should provide safe, secure and decent employment, which gives priority to local workers, including apprentices and trainees.

    Renewable energy construction should take advantage of Queensland’s skilled regional workforce. For example, Western and Southern Downs have an established construction, manufacturing and labour force and comparatively strong industry supply chains per capita of population, which could be leveraged by supportive procurement policies.

    Project proponents should engage with local employment and training organisations to ensure that opportunities associated with projects are communicated to potential local employees through a range of channels.

    The Queensland Government is investing in specialised training with a $20 million Hydrogen Training Centre of Excellence at Beenleigh, $10.6 million for a Hydrogen and Renewable Energy Training facility at Bohle TAFE campus in Townsville, $2 million to upgrade training facilities at Gladstone State High School to prepare students for jobs in the hydrogen industry and a $17 million grant will allow Electro Group Training to deliver renewable energy skills and training. Ensuring those interested in regional areas can attend these training centres will be a critical part of their success.

    Have your say

    Complete the survey and tell us what you think about the proposed local benefit principles.

    Find out more

    Read about the other proposed local benefit principles: