Armidale: where there is land there are applications for solar panels

Lachlan McPhie President of the Oxley Solar Farm Action Group
Lachlan McPhie President of the Oxley Solar Farm Action Group

Oxley Solar Farm proposal is approximately 915 hectares and will have up to 300 megawatts of generating capacity. This will displace approximately "534,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per annum" Oxley Solar Farm reported.

The companies have to connect to the transmission network to complete these large scale projects. A sub station is built by the developer and the grid is accessed from that sub station, all the proposals are located in the vicinity of major transmission lines.

Lachlan McPhie, President of the Castledoyle Solar Farm action group is representing a group of residents who will be impacted on by the magnitude of industrial size developments.

"We will be surrounded by 3 of the 7 farms. We have a developer Infinergypacific about to lodge an Environmental Impact Statement for a 30 MWH solar farm covering 90 Ha that is about, 150 football fields joined together, and they have a second proposal for a similar sized project abutting Waterfall Way called Olive Grove which will adjoin the Council landfill.

"Oxley Solar Development Pty. Ltd. has lodged a proposal with the NSW planning department for a 300 MWH solar farm covering 900 ha, that would look like, 1500 football fields joined together on Gara Station," Lachlan McPhie said.

This proposal will cover from the Oxley Wild Rivers national park, near the Blue Hole recreational centre, then west over the Gara river for about 2.5 kms, then north to Waterfall way adjoining the other two proposals.

"As you drive into the national park all you will be able to see will be able to see is solar panels. Infinergy contacted some people via a letter on the May 10, we had a meeting May 22, and then they had a landscape architect view the site a week later.

"We then met the developers again on the July 27 where we had a detailed discussion with them and expressed our dissatisfaction" Lachlan McPhie said.

The NSW government has designated the New England region as a renewable energy hub which has been lodged with the development proposals. In a statement the NSW government submission to the AEMO stated that "Energy Zones would also help ensure ongoing energy security and reliability in NSW by delivering large-scale generation capacity to replace future withdrawals of existing coal-fired capacity, with improved resource diversity across NSW."

The Australian Energy Market Operator records the development and investment trends in the solar farm market. There has been a large number of proposals lodged to build solar farms of the 11 proposed 7 are very close to Armidale.

Infinergy is a subsidiary of a UK-based company and has in June 2019, established renewable energy projects in Scotland, track record in the successful delivery of medium and large scale solar and wind projects in the United Kingdom and The Netherlands.

Currently there is no information about this project on their website www.infinergypacific.com yet they are about to lodge their Environmental Impact Statement and that will be on view for 28 days, then recommendations will be forwarded to Joint Regional Planning Committee.

The Oxley proposal has been lodged with the NSW planning department as it is considered 'state significant' so goes through a different process www.planningportal.nsw.gov.au/major-projects

The Infinergy energy Environmental Impact Statement will be on Armidale Regional Council website when it is lodged.

Local residents have not had any recent contact with the developers who hope to begin construction in mid 2020.

This story Castledoyle solar farm action group goes into action first appeared on The Armidale Express.