National Farmers' Federation

NFF urges ministers to act now to overhaul energy project engagement

The NFF urges Australia’s energy ministers to address the fierce discontent in farming communities over energy companies’ community engagement failures.

Ahead of tomorrow’s Energy and Climate Ministerial Council meeting, NFF President David Jochinke said the lack of community engagement was not a new problem and it had been almost a month since the Energy Infrastructure Commissioner, Andrew Dyer, released his report proposing ways to improve engagement.

“Our leaders can’t move at snail’s pace when these energy projects are racing through at thoroughbred speed,” Mr Jochinke said.

“These projects are impacting farmers and rural communities right now and the decisions they need to make about their future.”

The NFF is calling on the Ministerial Council to make meaningful change to ensure energy project developers work with communities rather than bulldozing through.

“Taxpayer funds being used to contribute to the roll out these energy projects, such as Rewiring the Nation, must be tied to social licence outcomes,” Mr Jochinke said.

“We saw in the Dyer Review 92% of people surveyed were dissatisfied with the level of engagement from project developers.

“It’s clear these energy companies don’t have a social licence and serious work needs to be done.”

The NFF is asking the Government to introduce enforceable obligations (a code) on energy proponents which govern engagement, compensation, land access arrangements and minimise impact on land use.

“These obligations must be legislated and have the teeth to impose penalties for any breaches.

“We also want to see significant action on planning reform, including requiring energy infrastructure planners to find sensible routes for transmission lines, not simply tearing through farmland as the easy option.

“The NFF and our members want to find the balance between meeting our energy and food requirements. We stand ready to discuss other options that don’t come at the expense of food and fibre production.”