Solar lo­ca­tion protest

Southern Riverina news - - RURAL OUTLOOK -

Feed­back and con­cerns raised at com­mu­nity meet­ings on a lo­cal solar farm pro­posal will guide the next phase of con­sul­ta­tion re­gard­ing the project.

Com­mu­nity meet­ings on the pro­posal to build two solar farms in the Mayrung area were held in Blighty and De­niliquin ear­lier this month.

Lo­cal pro­ducer Chris Do­herty, whose property ‘Bindi’ neigh­bours one of the pro­posed sites, said there were 70 peo­ple at the two meet­ings. He said ‘‘very few’’ peo­ple at the meet­ings sup­ported the pro­posal in its cur­rent form.

RES Aus­tralia, which is seek­ing govern­ment ap­proval for the solar farm pro­pos­als, wel­comed the feed­back, ac­cord­ing to the com­pany’s head of solar Dou­glas Smith.

‘‘We were pleased to see such a large turnout (at the meet­ings) and ap­pre­ci­ated the feed­back we re­ceived about many as­pects of the projects,’’ Mr Smith said.

‘‘The meet­ings mark just the be­gin­ning of the com­mu­nity con­sul­ta­tion process, not the end.

‘‘We have taken on board a range of con­cerns ex­pressed by neigh­bours and the broader com­mu­nity at both the Blighty and De­niliquin events and will now work through these to in­form our next phase of con­sul­ta­tion.

‘‘RES has a strong record in Aus­tralia, and around the world, of de­liv­er­ing suc­cess­ful projects in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the lo­cal com­mu­nity.’’

Mr Do­herty said he was sur­prised by the num­ber of peo­ple at the meet­ings, which he said was ev­i­dence that more thought had to go into the solar farm pro­posal for this area.

‘‘The gen­eral mes­sage from most of the farm­ers was that they like the idea of a solar farm, but that it does not be­long on pro­duc­tive farm­ing coun­try,’’ Mr Do­herty said.

‘‘At the mo­ment, we feel their ( RES Aus­tralia’s) hearts are in the right place and that they did not recog­nise the real value of that land pro­duc­tion wise.

‘‘Those two pro­posed parcels of land are some of the best dirt in the district.

‘‘And solar does not use the lo­cal chem­i­cal sup­pli­ers, stock agents, etcetera.

‘‘One farmer at the meet­ings even of­fered his own plain land for the project.’’

RES Aus­tralia’s two pro­posed projects are named af­ter the pri­vately owned prop­er­ties where they are to be built, both of which are owned by Macdon­ald Agri­cul­ture.

The first project, called ‘Cur­rawarra’, is lo­cated 25km north east of De­niliquin and will gen­er­ate up to 175 megawatts (MW) of re­new­able en­ergy. The largest op­er­a­tional solar farm in NSW gen­er­ates just over 100MW.

The sec­ond project — ‘Tar­leigh Park’ — is lo­cated 23km south east of De­niliquin and will gen­er­ate up to 90MW.

Both projects will use ground mounted solar pan­els with as­so­ci­ated ac­cess tracks, sub­sta­tion, oper­a­tion and main­te­nance build­ing, over­head and un­der­ground elec­tri­cal retic­u­la­tion and fenc­ing.

RES Aus­tralia says the con­struc­tion stages would pro­vide a strong boost to the lo­cal econ­omy.

And while the solar farms were de­signed to be mostly self-suf­fi­cient, it ex­pects both would em­ploy three to five full-time work­ers and use lo­cal ser­vices when needed.

Solar farms gen­er­ate rev­enue by sell­ing elec­tric­ity back into the na­tional net­work.

The power sup­ply can be pur­chased by ma­jor in­dus­try and other large-scale en­ti­ties, how­ever it is not avail­able for in­di­vid­ual house­hold use.

For more in­for­ma­tion on the projects, freecall 1800 841 178.

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