CleanCo’s Swanbank Clean Energy Hub Project

Congratulations on fostering community trust and gaining valuable public input and support for your masterplan! Facing a low-trust environment, the community engagement team at CleanCo sought to elevate public engagement with its interactive ‘Reimagine Swanbank' site. While it was the first time CleanCo had engaged with a host community in such a “proactive and open way,” the results were outstanding.

CleanCo Queensland
Queensland, Australia
Proactively engaging with residents to gain their input, build trust, and enhance CleanCo’s relationship with the community.
Key Project Highlights

Informed over 3,550 community members

Informed over 3,550 community members about the Swanbank project and received valuable input from 117 residents.

Building trust through inclusivity

Active effort to ensure that residents from all demographics felt acknowledged, heard, and valued throughout the process.

Co-designed with residents through hybrid engagement

Utilised hybrid engagement by conducting three in-person workshops alongside virtual participation.

CleanCo Queensland is a Queensland government-owned corporation established in 2018 to oversee and build a portfolio of flexible renewable and low-emission energy generation and storage assets.

Embarking on an exciting endeavour, in 2022 CleanCo initiated its first major expansion of a CleanCo asset by announcing the ‘Swanbank Clean Energy Hub’ for Ipswich.

The aim of this project was to transform a 330 hectare site into a clean energy hub, by seamlessly integrating community infrastructure with operational activities. The site previously included two coal-fired power stations, Swanbank A and B, operating from the 1960s through to 2002-2012. CleanCo continues to operate a highly efficient gas-fired power station, Swanbank E, at the site.

In creating the Swanbank Clean Energy Hub, CleanCo aims to ensure sustainable employment and economic opportunities for years to come. So, to effectively communicate and inform residents about this exciting project, CleanCo launched ‘Reimagine Swanbank’.

This allowed CleanCo to effectively engage with the Ipswich community and involve local residents in co-designing and helping to revitalise the site.

The Goal

Proactively engaging with residents to gain their input, build trust, and enhance CleanCo’s relationship with the community.

As a component of the Swanbank initiative, CleanCo collaborated with Ipswich residents by seeking their input during Phases 1 and 3 of the development process. A group of 30 nearby residents were also actively involved in the co-design phase of the project (Phase 2).

As a recently established corporation, CleanCo wasn’t widely recognised in the community, so one of the major challenges the organisation faced was to build understanding of CleanCo’s purpose, specifically its activities and plans at Swanbank.

Due to this lack of awareness, some community members had specific concerns related to misinformation about CleanCo’s activities. Many residents believed there was a connection between CleanCo’s operations and the region’s air quality issues (the Swanbank precinct hosts a number of major industrial operators).

Recognising these challenges, CleanCo maintained a clear objective. This involved actively engaging with community members and soliciting input on their thoughts, needs, and priorities for the site. CleanCo aimed to build trust and awareness through these diverse engagement initiatives and enhance its relationship with the community. Program Manager – Swanbank Precinct, Darryl Myers, described the challenge, including air quality issues.

To learn more about CleanCo’s Community Panel and the co-design process that led to the Swanbank masterplan, watch the video below:

“For the Swanbank project, the major issue we faced was a low-trust environment. Our Swanbank power station site is part of a larger industrial precinct, which has some significant issues relating to odour and air quality,” explained Darryl. “As CleanCo is not well known in the community (being a fairly new GOC), there was some misinformation and confusion around our connection to the air quality issues.”

– Darryl Myers, Program Manager – Swanbank Precinct

The Approach

Gaining valuable ideas by using Social Pinpoint and face-to-face meetings to proactively engage the community in land use planning.

Prior to using Social Pinpoint, CleanCo had limited engagement with the community, and primarily utilised methods such as social media and sponsorships for public participation. It aimed to elevate targeted engagement for Swanbank, by increasing the community’s awareness and ability to provide feedback for the project. The goal was to ensure that residents felt acknowledged, heard and valued throughout the process.

“We wanted to hear from the community about their ideas for the site,” continued Darryl. “This was the first time CleanCo had engaged with a host community in such a proactive and open way. It was also the first time the local community had been given the opportunity to share their ideas about land uses at the Swanbank site.”

– Darryl Myers, Program Manager – Swanbank Precinct

CleanCo reached out to Social Pinpoint to explore options for online community engagement. It sought effective ways to enhance communication and interaction with residents, demonstrating their commitment to inclusive participation and meaningful involvement in the Swanbank project. Given the comprehensive and user-friendly suite of engagement tools, CleanCo chose Social Pinpoint to introduce Reimagine Swanbank to the community.

By leveraging content tools such as Timelines, Feature Grids, and Videos, CleanCo effectively utilised its Reimagine Swanbank site to educate residents throughout each phase of the development process, to ensure that community members remained informed regarding this project.

“The Social Pinpoint platform is user friendly and intuitive with a wide range of engagement tools that were suited to our needs,” said Darryl. “For instance, we found that having the option to provide the Co-design Panel with a closed group page was very useful, as it provided a shared space for panel members to introduce themselves. It also enabled CleanCo’s SMEs to share information and answer questions between workshops.”

– Darryl Myers, Program Manager – Swanbank Precinct

CleanCo’s primary focus was to gather feedback from all demographics, achieved through the use of hybrid engagement methods. For instance, CleanCo Codesign panel members participated in three in-person workshops.

The aim was to bring together a diverse mix of people with skills, local knowledge, and a passion for Ipswich, to develop a draft vision and masterplan for CleanCo’s Swanbank clean energy hub. Additionally, residents had the opportunity to express their ideas for the masterplan by using a mix of engagement tools such as Gather, Social Map, and Form tools, allowing them to share their memories of Swanbank. After the in-person workshops, the panel presented the draft vision, a draft masterplan, and their report to the CleanCo Board for endorsement.

“We did a lot of face-to-face engagement. I think for any virtual engagement to be inclusive, you have to compliment it with in-person opportunities. You can’t rely on just one method or the other. It has to be a combination,” noted Natasha Shaw, Community and Partnerships Officer at CleanCo. “We went back and looked at who we missed out on in stage 1, in particular, the demographic groups who hadn’t engaged or perhaps didn’t connect in the extent that we wanted. We made a concerted effort to connect with hard-to-reach groups in the community.”

– Natasha Shaw, Community And Partnerships Officer

In those face-to-face sessions, CleanCo successfully garnered participation from hard-to-reach audiences, such as older adults, by using engagement methods that encouraged this demographic to share their memories and connections related to Swanbank.

“Through those in-person sessions, participants could ask questions and talk about the project over a cup of tea,” explained Natasha. “They talked about their connections with Swanbank. For instance, a lot of them had connections to the site, some had used it for swimming in the lake and social outings. So, it made the project more real, not something abstract and removed from them. Then we could also share the link for those who do know how to use technology and they could read more about it online.”

– Natasha Shaw, Community And Partnerships Officer

The Results

CleanCo informed over 3,550 community members about the Swanbank project and received valuable input from 117 residents.

While this long-term project continues, CleanCo had garnered 3,729 views and attracted 1,574 unique visitors during Phase 1 of the project in 2023. CleanCo also received 75 contributions, including 88 free-text comments that were submitted both online and in person. In Phase 3, the website welcomed 1,982 unique visitors and garnered 42 responses to a two-question survey. Natasha was delighted with the ease of use of the interactive community engagement site:

“Social Pinpoint provided CleanCo with a range of user-friendly, interactive engagement tools, making it easy for Ipswich residents to share their ideas and aspirations for the Swanbank Clean Energy Hub.”

– Natasha Shaw, Community And Partnerships Officer

The engagement process helped CleanCo identify future energy options that would garner public support as well as options that would be less acceptable to the community. These options were ruled out when CleanCo went to the energy market seeking generation and storage options for the site.

“Darryl Myers, Program Manager for Cleanco, described the success of the public engagement process: “Thanks to the input of the Ipswich community, CleanCo can be confident we have a masterplan that truly reflects the local needs and values.”

– Darryl Myers, Program Manager – Swanbank Precinct

The Future

CleanCo is establishing a Community Reference Group (CRG) and will continue to use Social Pinpoint to help facilitate engagement with this group. The Reimagine Swanbank website is the major avenue for promoting the EOI for the group and coordinating recruitment of the CRG. CleanCo will also provide CRG members with a closed page when the CRG has been established.

As the energy options for the site progress, the website will provide a platform to keep the community informed. The first major energy option to be progressed is the Swanbank Battery, which began construction in 2024 and is due to be operational by mid-2025.

What’s Happened Since?

CleanCo has officially concluded the call for submissions for the expression of interest (EOI) concerning the Community Reference Group (CRG). This newly formed group aims to foster collaboration between CleanCo and the Ipswich community, particularly focusing on the Swanbank area.

The EOIs are currently being assessed and people will be advised in late April.


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