Yes 2 Renewables communitycoordinator Leigh Ewbank travelled to King Island and came back with a reputation… Ewbank is now known on the island as the ‘Vegemite Man’.
Leigh Ewbankhas visited the King Island to observe the community engagement process surrounding a wind farm proposal. State-owned energy company Hydro Tasmania has proposed a 200 MW wind farm for King Island and has given the community control over the fate of the project. After an initial round of public participation, King Islanders will decide whether the project goes to a full feasibility study or not. It is this unique model of community engagement that has caught our attention.
Last week, the No TasWind Farm Group controversially ejected Leigh Ewbank from a public meeting featuring Sarah Laurie–who Crikey describes as a ‘well-known anti-wind farm campaigner.’ I’m told this move has caused quite a stir among islanders.
A wind farm proposal for King Island has emerged as a case study in community engagement.
The wind farm proponent, TasWind, are seeking the support of the community from the earliest stages of the project. The public-owned energy company is giving the community the power to decide whether a two-year feasibility study is conducted. TasWind is on the record in the King Island Courierassuring islanders it would only proceed with the wind farm if it is supported by the majority of the community. Put simply, TasWind is allowing the community to determine the fate of the project.
The TasWind approach may eventually be regarded as a best practice model for community engagement. Yet this fact hasn’t stopped King Island from becoming the latest battleground for anti-wind farm campaigners. These interests are seeking to kill the project before a feasibility study is even conducted. That is, before the community has the facts, figures and evidence it needs to make an informed decision. Continue reading “King Island wind farm proposal: a case study in community engagement”