The rush to embrace new technologies and solar energy at the expense of our agricultural production areas is becoming the ‘new energy’ area of concern.
Growcom CEO, Pat Hannan, says it’s time for a pause and a re-think.
“Harnessing energy from the sun is vital for our future but not at the expense of the original solar energy converters, the plants that we eat and depend on for life itself. We sound a note of caution at the rush to embrace new technologies at the expense of our agricultural production areas.”
Mr Hannan says issues are now emerging as to whether huge solar plants can co-exist with agriculture and while the organization feels it can, steps need to be taken now to end the policy vacuum around solar planning approvals in Queensland.
He says we’re seeing rushed approvals for huge solar plants with no consideration of pre-existing neighbouring farms or whether such panels are the best of use of prime agricultural land.
“One of our members is at the forefront of this issue with a major solar farm being approved by a local council within 500 metres of their house with no buffer zones and inadequate consideration of overland flow.”
Currently there are no guidelines for such major energy plants.
“Growcom and our umbrella organization Queensland Farmers’ Federation (QFF) are pushing government for a workable solar planning guideline by the end of the year.”
“In the meantime, we would suggest a moratorium on such developments to ensure that existing landholders are not unfairly impacted.”
Mr Hannan says the issue cannot be left there.
“Any such guidelines will in some ways act as a band-aid until the much-needed development of a fully functioning Solar Planning Code – a code of the same breadth that is currently in place and applied to windfarm applications. These codes often take years to develop but are essential in establishing a set of clear rules around future developments.”
“Growcom is simply asking government for a fair, reasonable, timely and considered approach to assessing the impact of the new solar developments – the same approach that we all currently expect for other energy generation projects such as gas, wind, coal-fired power stations and mining.”