Australia has boundless plains - why put solar panels on productive farms?

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There are many exciting renewable energy projects getting started in Australia at the moment. As well as the environmental benefits from these, it'll be great not to ruin our farmland for coal and gas!

But now that there is so much money available to develop solar farms, if that money destroys rich farmland... isn't that missing the point? Perhaps we could find some of our other boundless plains (or roofs...) so that solar and agriculture can both contribute to Australia's prosperity?

The immediate problem: the 800ha (300-400MW) Vena Energy Solar Project proposed for Gulgong will replace productive agricultural land with solar panels, and numerous planning guidelines have been ignored. Our suggestion is that in our area solar farms should be placed on reclaimed land around mine sites in the Ulan area. Failing this panels should be placed in areas with:

  • low quality agricultural soils;
  • low residential population density;
  • and in visually discreet locations.

The proposed Gulgong Solar Project is particularly irksome in that it is:

  • on good quality farming country that will be clear felled of all trees;
  • next to a large number of residential lifestyle blocks as well as traditional farms;
  • on both sides and highly visible from the Castlereagh highway on the approaches to the historic town of Gulgong;
  • within 1 km of the existing Beryl Solar Farm (300ha, 87MW) and a smaller proposed farm on the town boundary of Gulgong.

All of this directly contravene the SSDs (State Significant Developments) own guidelines. Moreover, the SSD legislation supersedes all NSW council planning powers, unlike in other states.

Let's make sure that everyone enjoys the benefits of solar power, and not let the adage that "you can't eat coal" apply to solar panels. Sign the petition to help give solar farms the land they deserve!