Moyne residents are being asked to "dream big" when it comes to spending wind farm cash in their communities.
An Australia-first initiative to fund large projects such as hospital upgrades and supporting community groups like the County Fire Authority crew from wind farm cash is underway across the Moyne Shire.
The initiative will assess how allocated money for communities can be best spent to benefit the whole region.
Former Moyne Shire councillor Colin Ryan put forward a motion in 2019 to start a strategic program to capture all the community benefit schemes by wind farms.
Wind farm cash from across Moyne Shire could grow to $700,000 each year and Mr Ryan said a joint fund would allow for bigger, more strategic projects and leveraged funding across the region.
"If we pool the funds, we can talk about programs that will actually make a difference," he said.
"The outset idea was to find a way the wind farm funds can be distributed through communities. I was engaging with communities who were receiving funds from wind farm companies and they were running out of ideas on how to spend the money.
"There is an obscene amount being poured into these small communities. If the funding is going to be around for the next 30 years, we can pool the resources and get much better outcomes for the region."
In the proposed pool of funds strategy, a delegate from each community receiving wind farm funding would decide on how much their community was able to give to the pool and what projects would be funded.
RE-Alliance Victorian coordinator Tony Goodfellow said the next step was setting up community consultations and listening posts to find out how the communities involved wanted the joint fund initiative to run.
"Over the life of this project, we're talking about at least $20 million in total wind farm community benefits," he said. "This is a chance for Moyne residents to dream big and think about what will really make a difference in their lives.
"It's common practice for wind farms to start a fund that allows them to share their annual profits with locals by supporting community groups.
"Pooling these funding streams into a joint program will allow local communities to target programs and assets that will leave a legacy for decades to come.
"The next step is to lock in decision-making structures for the fund that are fair and transparent so everyone can get behind it."
To make the initiative possible, community and local government endorsements are required.
Former Moyne Shire Council mayor Mick Murphy said a coordinated approach was the best solution.
"I've seen first-hand the benefit of a region working together," he said. "This model will give long-term benefits.
"The community don't see wind farms as a good thing, so lets take the opportunity to get the maximum benefit.
"While this model is Moyne-specific, I hope it will spread."
Over the next quarter, RE-Alliance will be kicking off the first round of community consultation on the fund. Mr Goodfellow said he hoped the initiative would be up and running by the end of the year.
For more information and to stay updated on when the community consultations will be held head to re-alliance.org.au/
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