The National Farmers Federation has welcomed remarks by Labor’s energy spokesperson, Chris Bowen about the importance of compensation and genuine, early consultation with communities and landholders in the development of renewable energy transmission infrastructure.
Mr Bowen directly referenced the NFF in his address to the Energy Networks Australia Conference today, where he committed Labor to reviewing and improving the current regulatory investment for transmission (RIT-T).
NFF CEO Tony Mahar said research by the NFF confirmed there was significant support for renewable energy in the bush.
“However, regional people, particularly landholders, expect to be consulted from the beginning of transmission projects, not when the route has already been determined,” Mr Mahar said.
“As Mr Bowen correctly said in his address, locals know fair better than any bureaucrat the likely impact of transmission projects on jobs, the environment and the community and they should be listened to far better than has been the case to date,” Mr Mahar said.
Mr Bowen praised NFF’s work with The Energy Charter to develop a best-practice framework for consultation on transmission network projects.
The NFF has been a vocal critic of the Australian Energy Market Operator’s (AEMO) Integrated Systems Plan’s (ISP) failure to adequately engage with rural and regional communities and the significant issues this has created in regards to land-use conflict with farmers.
“Mega-projects have been thrust on rural and regional communities with little or tokenistic landowner consultations, inadequate compensation, and in the case of the home-Link Transmission line, energy consumers worse off, with each household now liable for an addition $60 a year just to pay for the 250% cost blow out,” Mr Mahar said.
The AEMO has failed to consult and confer with regional and rural representatives, and its big-is-better mentality towards large-scale renewable energy generation infrastructure has necessitated the need for significant new investments in transmission lines, paid for with a blank cheque by energy users.
“The NFF has long sought for a greater focus on small-scale, mid-scale and community scale renewable projects, that keeps the economic and value-add benefits of projects with local communities, and reduces the need for new transmission lines. It is a shame that AEMO has on the most neglected these opportunities in favour of a bigger is better approach.”
“The energy transition should benefit our regional communities and all energy users, not just big energy companies,” Mr Mahar said.
“The NFF welcomes Mr Bowen’s acknowledgment of the problem and more importantly, his party‘s commitment to addressing it if they form Government.”
The NFF’s 2030 Roadmap for a $100 billion agriculture industry, includes a goal for Australia’s farm energy sources to be 50% renewable by the same year.