With an air of easy confidence, Ted Cox says there isn't much that fazes him, the least of which being people that are angry about a proposed solar farm on his property.
The Mudgee Guardian sat down with Mr Cox to talk about the recent backlash over a Development Application on land he owns for solar farm.
TED, a long-time Mudgee resident, is not only the owner of Burrundula Wines but also the owner of the land next to the winery where the proposed solar farm would be built.
The proposed solar farm - one of two currently on public display - would be built next to the winery but also in view of residents in the area who are upset with the development and cite fears of noise, decreased land values and glare as a result of the panels.
Mudgee Guardian solar farm coverage
Mr Cox says he was approached by the company IT Power Australia, who proposed the idea 'about six months ago' and initially knocked back their suggested sites for the solar farm - on land owned by Mr Cox - due to the quality of soil and agricultural opportunities.
"We talked about a couple of sites, one of which was down by the river flats. We said no, that's a good bit of land there, we grow crops and cattle and things. That's too good for solar panels," Mr Cox said.
"I suggested they look at some other sites before settling on one. So they looked and did a survey and so on and thought it [the proposed site] was very suitable,"
The initial backlash against the DA all happened while Mr Cox was away on a holiday, leaving him largely unaware of the controversy until he arrived back in Mudgee.
"I did see criticism that we didn't inform adjoining landholders, but we have nothing to tell them," Mr Cox said.
"We've been hands off in this whole process, we're just letting it get to its natural conclusion. We haven't lobbied anyone or tried to sway anyone's opinion,"
"There are quite a lot of misconceptions around. For instance the term 'prime agricultural land' gets bandied about willy-nilly without any definition,"
"As I've mentioned earlier, that land on the river flats would be black alluvial soil. But this soil up here is not particularly fertile,"
"I did one soil test last year and found it's lacking in - among other things - potassium and calcium. That can be fixed and yeah you can plant a crop and graze it, but not to the point where you'd call it prime agricultural land."
Mr Cox went on to list other 'misconceptions' he has heard shared on social media.
"Some people seem to think that the panels would be sole occupant of that block. In fact we intend to run sheep on the pasture underneath the panels. That's a very common practice," Mr Cox said.
"There is some research that indicates that under panels, when they're shaded the soil moisture is better and the growth grass is better,"
It's not a particularly attractive entrance anyway - it might even improve it.- Ted Cox
The Mudgee Guardian previously spoke to Anita Rusten, a resident of the area whose property would face the solar farm.
She and others in Mudgee shared a number of concerns about the proposed solar farm, including the visual, financial and auditory impacts.
Mr Cox was quick to respond. "Hear that noise there? That's the Sydney Road, there will be a lot more noise there at any time of day, especially with trucks at night," Mr Cox said.
"There won't be any noise from the panels at night which makes sense to me because they're solar panels, there's not much sun at night in my experience."
Asked about a decrease in land values, Mr Cox said that if it was true, his land would be adversely affected too. He also quashed suggestions the aesthetics of the drive into Mudgee on the Sydney Road would be poorer.
"Land values, yeah, I'd be concerned too. I'm right next door, but I don't think it's going to happen," Mr Cox said.
"They [the solar panels] are not particularly ugly or polluting or anything and we will be fencing off the perimeter and planting probably 3500-4000 trees."
"It hardly affects the appearance of the approach to Mudgee, it's not as if it's very beautiful now," Mr Cox said.
"Council had an opportunity years ago to make it good but it's been zoned such that you've got these big box retailers, you've got car yards, petrol stations and so on,"
"It's not a particularly attractive entrance anyway - it might even improve it."
Mr Cox said that as a grower and farmer, he's dealt directly with the effects of climate change.
"As a grape grower, I'm constantly witnessing the effects of a warming climate," Mr Cox said.
"Our harvest for all varieties is probably three weeks earlier than just 15 years ago, so I think we all have an obligation to do all we can to try and minimise climate change,"
"I appreciate there's a lot mining in Mudgee and it's very good for the economy but the coal won't last forever and I'd like to see a mixed sources of energy for instance."
Mr Cox said that in his experience, existing solar farms haven't had the adverse effects people predict the one in Burrundula to have.
It doesn't bother me much, I was in the army in vietnam and I was an air-traffic controller for 30 years so these little things are water off a duck's back to be honest.- Ted Cox
"Some people might genuinely not like the appearance of solar panels. I quite often go past Broken Hill or Dubbo and they're just there. I think they're a lot better looking than a lot of other things on the road," Mr Cox said.
"The main objectors came here hoping they'd look at sheep and cattle and those sorts of things, but life goes on and things don't stay the same forever. Perhaps people don't like me," he laughed.
"Either way, it doesn't bother me much, I was in the army in vietnam and I was an air-traffic controller for 30 years so these little things are water off a duck's back to be honest."
"Change is inevitable, it's not always good, we can't just stay as we are. Mudgee was a sleepy little town when I was a kid, it was pretty boring and now it's got a nice buzz to it and it's attracting people and that brings development,"
"A lot of people seem to be in favour of renewable energy as long as it's not near them, unfortunately. Which I can understand to a degree."
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