WELLINGTON branch of NSW Farmers Association has resolved to push the state’s foremost farmers representative organisation to lobby both state and federal governments to oppose new large-scale commercial solar farm developments on prime agricultural land.
A motion resolved at the local branch meeting on January 10 received full support from the 50 attendees. The meeting was called to determine if the branch would make a submission on the proposed Suntop Stage 2 solar farm project.
Proposed by branch president Peter Carter and seconded by secretary, Andrew Martell, the original motion called for stopping developments on Class 1 and 2 as described in the land capacity classification system developed by the NSW Soil Conservation Service.
After lengthy debate the motion was amended to include Class 3 land as well.
Mr Martell said he was not opposed to solar farms, but believed they should not take up good farming land.
“As far as I can work out the sun shines just as well on crook land as it does on good land,” he said. “It doesn’t seem to differentiate much.”
The resolution will now be tabled at the March NSW Farmers Council meeting.
Attending the meeting was Dubbo Regional Council (DRC) mayor Ben Shields, and deputy mayor Anne Jones.
In a statement to The Land DRC said it was in the process of organising an information evening for concerned resident, however, a date had not yet been confirmed.
As well, council staff intend to make a submission when the (solar farm) development is referred to the Department of Planning and Environment. Asked if council would seek an memorandum of understanding with the developer, Photon Energy, of recurring costs associated with road upgrades in the area for the development to progress, council stated that although the legislation imposes no express requirement to enter into a Planning Agreement with council, it is council’s intention to negotiate with the developer with a view to obtaining a reasonable community benefit.
At a community public meeting in Wellington on November 28 last year attended by 80 people speakers urged residents opposed to the Suntop Solar Stage 2 project make submissions when the development opens for public comment.
Photon Energy’s first stage development to build a 170MW PV farm costing $262 million at Suntop, 10 kilometres west of Wellington was approved in mid-December 2018.
At the November meeting Photo Energy’s project manager, Nick Guzowski welcomed the genuine concerns of community members which he took on-board.