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 1800841178.