NSW Farmers has called for a more stringent oversight of planning approvals, and better compliance and enforcement with respect to the development of large-scale solar on agricultural lands.
The increase in large scale renewable projects in regional areas prompted healthy debate amongst the 300 delegates at the NSW Farmers Annual Conference on Wednesday.
NSW Farmers Vice President Chris Groves said farmers are uncertain about the implications of large scale solar operations on neighbouring properties.
“This industry is still new in Australia and there are some scenarios that haven’t played out yet, particularly around fires and insurance,” Mr Groves said
“It’s important that the assessments process for State Significant renewable projects adequately considers the impacts on agriculture.”
The NSW Government has earmarked large sections of rural NSW as renewable energy zones, including in the New England and Riverina regions, and areas in and around Wagga.
“Given the upcoming retirement of significant coal power generation, in combination with the creation of these renewable zones, there will be an exponential increase in large-scale solar proposals on agricultural lands.
“This will be a significant change to the rural landscape and to rural communities. As such the concerns and impacts on rural communities and neighbours must be given greater attention and be addressed as a part of the planning process.
“NSW Farmers strongly believes in property rights and the right to farm. Our members have clearly stated that large-scale projects are not incompatible with rural communities, and it is up to the individual landowners as to what happens with their land”