Neighbours ‘not happy’

VIEW WITH A DIFFERENCE: The Bassett farm looking east where the solar panels would go. Photo supplied.

VIEW WITH A DIFFERENCE: The Bassett farm looking east where the solar panels would go. Photo supplied.

Owners of properties next to the proposed Gunning solar plant are not happy with the notification of the project. Neighbour Tracy Bassett said she was “horrified” by the prospect. She also only found out about it this week.

“We will be completely surrounded on two sides. Our property slopes and overlooks a valley, which will be filled with solar panels,” she said.

”This is a beautiful view that everyone admires...What happens to the value of our land? No one wants to overlook a solar farm.” Mrs Bassett said neighbours were “pretty cranky.”

She said she expected to be advised of the proposed development earlier and was now on a “steep learning curve” about its details.

“I have nothing against solar farms. It’s the way we should go but something like this needs to be done in the right way,” Mrs Bassett said.

A community consultation session would be held at the Council Chambers in Gunning on Wednesday, July 26 at 6.30pm. The company will also have a portal on its website and further consultation will be undertaken through the Department’s planning process.

“We want to ensure everyone has the information they need...We want to know so we can alleviate concerns and we certainly don’t want to shock and awe people,” Mr Gartner from Proton Energy said.

The project is expected to power 100,000 to 150,000 homes, create up to 200 jobs during construction and 30 once operational. Mr Gartner said the company would source as many local skills as possible.

He believed the major impacts to be on road and transport, especially during peak construction when semi-trailers would use Lade Vale Road.

The company will develop a traffic management plan with Upper Lachlan Shire Council. The council’s acting general manager, Andrew Croke said the council would lodge a preliminary response on the solar farm with the Department by July 14.

“We are becoming the renewable energy capital of Australia,” he said. “...This is a large project and the council needs to consider all the impacts, including transport, road safety, access, social and economic.”

The Planning Assessment Commission will decide the project.

Mr Gartner said he hoped for “clarity” on the planning process by the end of this year and the 12-month construction phase to start in early 2019.

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