The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has hailed the Federal Government’s review into community engagement practices for renewable energy infrastructure as a step in the right direction.
NFF Vice President David Jochinke said farmers were sick of energy companies seeing productive farmland as a blank canvas for their projects.
“The transition to renewable energy means thousands of kilometres of new transmission lines on farmland yet farmers are often left in the dark about these projects,” he said.
“Farmers feel powerless when energy companies announce their plans with little to no consultation. Our sector wants to work with energy companies to ensure the best possible outcome.”
The review aims to improve planning and community engagement when new transmission lines and renewable energy zones are proposed.
The NFF has long called for the Commonwealth to develop an enforceable code to ensure future transmission lines aren’t implemented without proper consultation, compensation and adversely impacting existing land use.
“Farmers recognise the benefits of bringing new renewables into the grid as they too bear the weight of rising energy prices,” Mr Jochinke said.
“They’re also an important tool as we move to cleaner, greener energy to mitigate climate change, a challenge farmers are working on every day.
“Energy projects can benefit agriculture and regional Australians, but not at the detriment of food production at a time when food security and rising food prices are a top priority.
“It just needs to be done right, in a fair and transparent way to ensure valuable farming land isn’t lost and our ability to produce food and fibre isn’t depleted.
The NFF acknowledged Energy Infrastructure Commissioner Andrew Dyer’s experience – having worked closely on numerous disputes over energy land access.
“We look forward to him bringing this experience to the table. The NFF will seek to work alongside Mr Dyer to ensure the concerns of regional communities that are affected by these issues are well heard.”