A community consultation event was held on 31 May 2017 hosted by CSAU at the QANTAS Founders Museum in Longreach. The session had attendance of local businesses, Longreach Councillors and the local newspaper (Longreach Leader). Both CSAU and EPC Contractor presented on the development and construction progress as well as interaction and opportunities for the local community and economy.
The interest from attendees was strong during the question period and feedback forms confirm that the development is a well-received opportunity for the community. Attendees were encouraged to get in touch with the project team with any further questions through the online community portal longreachsolarfarm.com.au.
The community engagement strategy is giving back to the communities we work in. The use of local contractors to provide maximum economic and social benefits to the local communities is part of our holistic view in giving power to the people.
Canadian Solar has developed a comprehensive Community Consultation Plan and has undertaken numerous activities in support of this plan to effectively address current and long term community concerns throughout the life of the Project. Each stage has been thought out extensively in terms of prime purpose, target audience and expected outcomes, where its overall effectiveness and impact is evaluated to allow for flexible iteration to tailor the strategy accordingly to specific community needs.
Effectiveness of the strategy is evaluated against community participation, involvement, responsiveness, level acceptance of the project, and impact of communication mediums and infrastructure. Overall, the execution of the formal Longreach Community Consultation was a complete success and showed a very strong positive response from both the community and key stakeholders that Canadian Solar continuously engaged with to embody integrity and transparency with the details of the proposed Project. The community highlighted the critical importance of the proposed Longreach Solar Farm Project in contributing to the local community’s social, economic and environmental sustainability.
Target all key community stakeholders
Canadian Solar distributed a Longreach Project Proposal information flyer via email to the local community through liaising with the Longreach Regional Council and researched community groups that are potentially interested, inviting them to RSVP to the face-to-face consultation.
This allowed the community to ask questions prior to the formal face-to-face consultation. Responses received showed no negative community stance regarding the Project.
Local media release announcements
Canadian Solar engaged with the Longreach Leader newspaper that covers over 2,250 publications across the region to place a public invitation to the Longreach community. This was distributed two weeks before the formal consultation. Additionally, ABC radio was contacted to provide verbal announcements two weeks prior to the formal consultation.
Formal face-to-face Community Consultation – April 19th, 2016.
Canadian Solar held two face-to-face community sessions at the Longreach Regional Council Civic & Cultural Centre. Below is a photo from the consultation where the community were able to openly discuss any concerns regarding the proposed project. Presentation slides from the community consultation can be downloaded here.
Continual monitoring of community views
Canadian Solar set up an open community portal to monitor community views and answer any possible community concerns post formal face-to-face community consultation. This online portal was addressed at the formal community consultation. Interested parties can readily post/email through concerns regarding anything revolving the Project. No community complaints have yet been received.
Community consultation outcomes were assessed to identify which aspects required more attention to fit community needs. The consultation strategy and the proposed project was very well received by the community and below are articles and links to positive media releases regarding the proposed Longreach solar farm project:
Looking into the Future…
Based on very positive results obtained from our community consultation strategy, a similar approach is to be implemented following the ARENA Full Application. The basic ingredients to the implementation of future strategy are briefly planned as follows with more details to be finalised closer to the date:
- Publically announce success of ARENA Application to the local community, key stakeholders and interested parties;
- February 2017: Formal community consultation prior to project construction to address major disturbances/issues that community may face during this time;
- Set up a dedicated online community portal for the construction phase of the Project which can be found on the ‘Contact Us’ tab on this website; and
- Update the community on a monthly basis with information sheets as to inform the community regarding the progress and critical milestones of project.