A packed Gulgong CWA Hall voted unanimously to voice their concerns over the location selected for a proposed solar farm, north of town.
The meeting, held on Monday evening, was organised by the group Gulgong Residents for Responsible Renewables (GRRR) who maintain that they're "not against solar" but disagree the planned placement of the facility on agricultural land. The motion carried was, "this meeting is opposed to the location of major solar projects on productive agricultural land. And we call on all levels of government to address this issue".
A petition, signed by around 50 people in attendance, recommended consideration of "land of lesser agricultural importance" for such facilities. One of the speakers and organisers of the event, Sharelle Fellows, said "personally I think reclaimed mining land would be an ideal site and we have it very much nearby us".
She also addressed the State significant development process, which would apply to the proposed project, that will take assessment of the project straight to the Department of Planning and Environment.
Rick Campbell, of GRRR, spoke about the expected "visual impact" of the three stage facility, that he said "is going to be on both sides of the highway as you enter town. If Gulgong wants to preserve its image as a heritage town this is not compatible". And added that there would be a "cumulative effect" in that stretch of the Castlereagh Highway. "We've already got Beryl, there's this Gulgong Solar Project, rumours of another one in North Gulgong, how many can we handle?" he asked.
However, the suggestion that passing solar farms on the way into town wouldn't have any tangible effect on the heritage values of Gulgong, drew a reaction of derision from many in the hall.
Gordon McDonnell, who counted the vote, said, "it was wonderful that over 80 people attended and we heard quite a few views from the people, it went very well".
"What we're concerned about is solar farms being on highly productive agricultural land when there is marginal lands in NSW that can be used for this purpose. We're not against solar, we're just against it being placed on good agricultural land," he said. "The town itself is very historic, and also the approaches to the town, you've got to maintain the vistas so that people have a pleasant feeling coming into town."
Vena Energy has been contacted for comment.