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Community Consultative Committee

Introduction

The Community Consultative Committee (CCC) is a forum for discussion between a proponent, representatives of the community and other stakeholders including regional councils. The Community Consultative Committee Guidelines, November 2016, contain a detailed description of the membership, selection procedure, and information about the running of CCC meetings.

The CCC comprises an independent chair, up to seven community representatives, a representative from each of the regional councils and up to three representatives from the proponent.

The Department appoints an independent chairperson and calls for nominations for the community representatives. It is recommended that the community representatives are people impacted by the project and who are in a position to represent the community, contribute to discussions during meetings and disseminate information from meetings to the broader community. The chairperson oversees the selection process.

Community representatives should not be host properties nor associated properties, nor aligned with the proponent. These members of the community are represented by the proponent.

The regional council representatives represent the broader community and will keep the council up to date and provide relevant information to CCC members.

The earlier the CCC is formed the better. Don’t hesitate to approach the Department regarding the CCC’s formation. The CCC is important, and it should fairly reflect the community in its membership. Ensure that as many people as possible nominate.

Committee members should have the time to work on wind farm matters between meetings and disseminate information about the project to the wider community, check meeting minutes, propose agenda items and actively contribute during meetings.

CCC meetings are usually held once every three months and last for two or three hours. The meeting frequency can be increased to deal with the material that needs to be covered. It is important that the CCC is balanced, fair and transparent in its proceedings:

Non-committee members can attend meetings but may not speak unless invited to do so. This may include Departmental representatives, other State government agencies, technical experts or consultants for the proponent as well as community members.

Meeting Proceedings

Whilst it is the chairperson’s role to formulate the agenda and ensure that good meeting practice is followed, the community should consider proposing standing agenda items (with agreed time limits) for each meeting so that the community can be kept informed on:

Other useful agenda items which the community could suggest are:

Other Matters

The proponent pays the chairperson’s costs and may cover the out of pocket expenses of representatives at their discretion.

Members of the committee must declare pecuniary and non-pecuniary interests. Pecuniary interests are matters which may result in financial gain or loss. Money does not have to exchange hands for there to be a pecuniary interest. Non-pecuniary interests are involvement through a personal or family relationship or membership in a group with a financial interest.

Some examples include:

These interests must be declared and minuted so that they can be asked to withdraw from certain discussions.

Jupiter Case Study

The Jupiter Wind Farm CCC highlighted the divide between the community and the proponent.

The Committee was established in 2015 by the Department when there was already considerable community concern about the impact of the wind farm and the engagement approach of the proponent.

Residents Against Jupiter Wind Turbines (RAJWT) had formed and been active since mid-2014. The relationship between the company and the community was strained. This was reflected at committee meetings.

Committee meetings were always civil. However, a good working relationship, one of the main objectives for creating a CCC, was difficult to establish. There are several reasons for this including strong and vocal opposition to the proposal by members, a mutual lack of trust and the history of engagement prior to the formulation of the CCC.

The Jupiter Wind Farm Community Consultative Committee Chairperson’s Annual Report 2016-2017 noted:

The proponent struggled to come to terms with contemporary best practice in communications and community and stakeholder engagement for a major and contested project such as Jupiter.

Community members of the CCC, particularly those who strongly oppose the project, were forensic in their examination of written material prepared by the proponent.

EPYCs failure to respond quickly to questions and requests by other committee members was not conducive to information sharing and establishing good relationships. It also resulted in the same questions being asked repetitively often with subtle word changes to get a response.

Problems that have arisen in the past

The proponent establishes the committee.

The community representatives on the CCC are host properties and associated properties. This is not appropriate, as hosts are represented by the proponent.

The proponent publishes its own version of the minutes.

The CCC is not formed until late in the process. 

The CCC is not provided with information, despite repeated requests to do so.

The independent chair is also the chair for multiple other projects by the same proponent.

The chair does not follow good meeting practice, fails to share information or is perceived to be biased.

The proponent controls the meeting and uses the CCC as a forum for a promotional campaign affording little opportunity for community values and concerns to be expressed.

Hopefully the Community Consultative Committee Guidelines, November 2016 will, if followed, repair these and other issues.