Member for Tamworth Kevin Anderson has warned constituents of an "emerging crisis" of land use conflict between the agricultural and renewable energy industries.
Speaking at the 'State of the State' Leaders Forum Luncheon at the Powerhouse Hotel on Wednesday, June 7, Mr Anderson told a room of business people that transitioning to green energy will be a challenge for the region.
"Ladies and gentlemen I'm telling you, it is an emerging crisis we are facing when it comes to renewable energy, setting up those projects, whether they be wind farms or whether they be solar panels, and whatever else is coming on the horizon," he said.
"Years ago the land use conflict was agriculture and mining, but now it's agriculture and renewables," Mr Anderson said.
"Projects are now being sought on prime agricultural land. We're seeing it at Loomberah a project there, out at Somerton a project there, we've seen the Nundle wind farm, Bendemeer wind farm and solar farm, Kentucky, Walcha, and so it goes on," Mr Anderson said.
But it's oil and gas companies that have most recently ruffled farmers' feathers, with the National Farmers Federation striking out against Santos over coal seam gas exploration near Gunnedah.
Mr Anderson didn't mention mining exploration in his 25-minute address, but it did come up just a few moments before in a speech from Mr Anderson's "long-time friend" and CEO of the NSW Minerals Council Stephen Galilee.
"Over the last five years, mining and minerals exploration in NSW has almost doubled from 180 million annually to over 350 million last year, reflecting strong exploration activity across all our authorities," Mr Galilee said.
"Spending on exploration today helps find the mines of tomorrow."
Both men said the transition to renewable energy is inevitable, but stressed the need for "balance" given the regional economy's dependence on mining.
"While changes are occurring in the coal sector, the strength of the NSW coal mining sector continues and coal mining will be happening in NSW for some time yet," Mr Galilee said.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.