Nationals Member for Euroa Annabelle Cleeland has called on the Andrews Labor Government to ensure regional Victorian communities’ benefit from ongoing renewable energy projects.
With the Euroa electorate and the wider north-east of Victoria set to become hubs for many renewable energy projects, Ms Cleeland stressed the importance of ensuring this transition includes local communities.
“We know what can be achieved when we get the transition to renewables right, where communities are involved and benefit from the change,” Ms Cleeland said.
“The rapid expansion of renewables across regional Victoria is undeniable. But it’s crucial we prioritise listening to the impacted communities and ensuring a careful approach.
“Failing this will jeopardise our ability to achieve both emissions reduction and renewable energy targets.”
Ms Cleeland has met with several community groups set to be impacted by upcoming renewable energy projects, discussing what must be done for them to feel comfortable with the process.
Ms Cleeland also met with major renewable energy companies, including an international business proposing a wind farm in the Seymour region, a Canadian-owned solar farm project in Colbinabbin.
“This isn’t NIMBY behaviour, these are groups of people who are concerned about what these massive developments will mean for their community,” Ms Cleeland said.
“Our community is simply asking who benefits from renewables infrastructure, and are our host communities being brought along in the process?
“We cannot allow large corporations to swoop into our communities, dismiss the concerns of the people, then take all the benefits offshore, leaving locals with nothing.
“With renewable energy planning approvals falling solely on the desk of the Minister, we need to ensure there is also a robust appeal processes, so our communities are heard as loudly as these big companies.”
Just this week, a group of landowners, farmers, and regional residents took to Parliament to protest the construction of massive transmission lines across their properties.
The ‘stop the towers’ protest was in response to the proposed VNI West and Western Renewables Link projects, which spreads across vast areas of the state’s northwest.
Ms Cleeland was happy to support the farmers who made the trip down to Melbourne, saying it was a clear example of how renewable projects cannot afford to ignore the communities they impact.
“The ‘stop the towers’ protest was an incredible example of community advocacy and I applaud them for their determination,” Ms Cleeland said.
“Communities need to be involved in these major projects to ensure they benefit from the change, rather than becoming divided by secrecy and poor planning.”
Nationals Member for Northern Victoria Gaelle Broad said those who turned up for the ‘stop the towers’ rally were some of Victoria’s most important food producers and must be listened to.
“These farmers keep the food on our tables and our economy ticking over,” Ms Broad said.
“It makes no sense to bulldoze through their farms, jeopardising not just their own livelihoods but those of everyone who relies on these producers.
“The cost-of-living crisis is already at a breaking point and the last thing we need is prices going up even further because the Labor Government chose to ignore our farmers.”