Independent Federal Member for Indi Helen Haines has written to the Victorian Government expressing her dismay with its decision to remove the right for third parties to appeal renewable energy planning decisions through VCAT.

From 1 April, third parties will no longer be able appeal to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) about planning decisions of renewable energy projects.

“I’m listening to my communities, including people from Dederang and Meadow Creek, who are telling me about their genuine concerns about large-scale renewable energy projects proposed close to where they live,” Dr Haines said.

In her letter to the Minister for Energy and Resources Lily D’Ambrosia and Minister for Planning Sonya Kilkenny, Dr Haines expressed concern that under the current system, there are not enough safeguards to ensure communities are heard and their issues acted upon by developers.

“The State Government is not listening to these concerns, and project developers are not consistently offering real benefits to regional communities expected to host these projects. The removal of the right to appeal to VCAT will exacerbate this situation,” Dr Haines said.

“I am with my communities 100 per cent on this. Fast-tracking projects and silencing communities is terrible governance.”

To address the concerns of regional and rural communities about renewable energy infrastructure projects, Dr Haines and Independent Senator for the ACT David Pocock worked with the federal Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen in 2023 to establish an independent review into community engagement and benefit sharing for renewable energy developments.

“The Community Engagement Review final report was clear – the state and federal governments must improve community engagement and consultation,” Dr Haines said.

“The decision to remove the right to appeal to VCAT is contrary to the recommendations of the Review’s final report.

“In my letter to the state ministers, I asked how the Victorian Government will act to implement the recommendations of the Review to ensure community engagement and community benefit are delivered for the communities in Indi impacted by renewable energy projects.

“The Federal Government needs to put money behind the recommendations in the Review and work with the states to legislate best practice community engagement for the energy transition.

“I support the transition to renewables but regional people should be given opportunities to benefit from the renewable energy transition, this must be done with us, not to us.

“I will continue to fight for regional and rural communities who should be benefitting from the shift to renewables, not punished for speaking up when the government gets it wrong.”

Read Dr Haines’ letter to the Victorian Government here.


Sign up

Keep up to date with the latest news and information