Letter to the editor | Dunedoo solar farm concerns

I am writing to express my concerns with the proposal to construct a solar “farm” on prime agricultural land opposite the Dunedoo township being proposed by i b vogt. 

At the outset I would note that the word “farm” is a complete misnomer. What is being proposed is a full scale industrial complex, not a rural industry which may be permissible under the Warrumbungle DCP. There is no provision under the DCP for an approval of an industrial development of this scale on rural land.

My major concern is the visual impact the plant will have on the township and neighbouring residences which overlook the site. The objectives in the DCP clearly recognise that the maintenance of a rural outlook is an important part of the amenity of the district. From the i b vogt Newsletter 1, the area proposed for the solar installation is approximately 200 hectares, all of which is in full view of the township. If approved, an installation of this size would have a massive impact on the visual amenity of all residents and would dominate views of the countryside, destroying the rural outlook.

When looking at the objectives for rural development controls in the DCP, any proposed development should do the following: protect the amenity of the locality; ensure the development complements the natural characteristics of the area; achieve design that complements the landscape and does not cause adverse visual impact; ensure the development does not adversely impact on the existing and future agricultural and rural industry potential of the land, and minimise possible impacts on threatened species or their habitat.

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In my view, the proposal fails to meet all of these objectives.

The location of the proposed solar installation is on prime agricultural land, on the river flats adjoining the Talbragar River, and is overlooked by the Dunedoo township.

The principle of preserving prime agricultural land has been fully aired in the recent coal seam gas debate. That principle applies equally to the current proposal, and in fact is even more applicable than the coal example, because the solar is able to be relocated to other sites. The location of the proposed plant is wrong and it should be moved.

Another impact of the proposed installation will be from reflection and glare from the panels. Drivers travelling east along the Mendooran Road towards Dunedoo will be driving straight towards the installation for the last several kilometres of their trip. As the panels will be tracking the sun in the afternoon when the sun is in the west, the reflection from the panels will be towards drivers travelling this route, and is therefore a potential safety hazard.

In addition, on our Corumbene property there are a number of homes which overlook the proposed solar installation. Reflections from the panels will also disturb and annoy the occupants.

There is also a significant environmental consideration arising from the proposal. The endangered black swan, after which Dunedoo is named, have a nesting area in a low lying part of the Corumbene property adjacent. The visual disturbance that I have referred to above will adversely impact on this nesting area.

For all of these reasons, which are also why I declined the opportunity to have this plant situated on our Corumbene property,  the proposal to situate a major solar installation in the proposed location should not be approved. The proposal is contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of this area and is inconsistent with the objectives of the Warrumbungle DCP and the interests of residents.  

George Altomonte