The developers of a major solar farm at Gulgong have hit back at claims they did not consult Gulgong landholders, saying they had “face to face meetings” throughout the development process.
Many residents told The Land though they knew little about the large state-significant 200ha project, known as the Beryl Solar Farm, and there had been no local advertising.
Even one person bought a block right next to the development without knowing a solar farm was planned there.
But developers First Solar insist they have fully engaged the community. They say the solar farm will create 150 construction jobs and “ongoing full-time positions”.
“The proposed Beryl Solar Farm site represents an ideal location for the deployment of photovoltaic solar generation,” a spokesperson for First Solar said.
“The proposed site is situated on Beryl Road and was chosen over other potential sites for its availability of existing transmission capacity on-site (avoiding the need to build new transmission lines), its excellent solar resource, and because it is predominantly clear flat land with sandy soils.
These factors make it an ideal location for a solar project.”
Locals say though the farm is taking out prime agricultural land and the plant could be located elsewhere. Because it is a state significant project, Mid-Western Council has no say in the development, which is before the the Department of Planning for approval.
When it is built, it will be the second largest solar farm in NSW. It will produce approximately 241,000 megawatt hours of solar energy each year to serve the needs of 28,000 average NSW homes.
The company said it started face to face meetings with nearby residents in November 2016.
It said it sent a community information letter and fact sheet issued to all residents within 2km of the site on December 8, last year, and a “project update letter, feedback form and invitation to Community Information Day issued to all residents within 2km and all members of the Gulgong Chamber of Commerce on February 6, 2017.”
The Information Day was advertised in the Mudgee Guardian on February 14, 2017.
First Solar there would be “continued engagement and face to face meetings with nearby residents throughout the entire development process”.
The electricity generated will flow to the closest loads via the existing network including Coonabarabran, Dunedoo, Ulan, Gulgong and Mudgee.