We thank the New South Wales Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) for the opportunity to input into the revised Solar Guidelines.
Our goal in providing feedback is to encourage best practice from the solar industry when it comes to key issues of concern for our communities currently experiencing high demand from solar developers for their land.
Our submission asks DPE to support the industry to consider local impacts in tandem with other local projects, and with the energy transformation as a whole.
We maintain that cleared land, which often happens to be agricultural land, is the best place for solar farms. However, the concern from farmers that the cumulative impact of solar farms will impact the ability of the family farmer to buy land must be taken seriously and addressed. Community attitudes around the siting of solar projects need to be given more prominence than is currently the case. While it may be beyond the scope of these Guidelines, we would like to see DPE lead collaborative community mapping for each REZ to ensure the optimal siting of renewable projects.
Co-location of solar and agriculture should be prioritised as best-practice. Co-locating solar with cropping, while common practice in other countries, has not been sufficiently explored in Australia.
Our commitment is to an energy transformation that sees genuine long-term benefits for regional Australia, and we would welcome the opportunity to discuss any of our recommendations with the department.