Home NewsAustralia ‘We’re very, very fearful for our land’: Farmers call for overhaul of approvals for large-scale solar projects

‘We’re very, very fearful for our land’: Farmers call for overhaul of approvals for large-scale solar projects

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Ought to arable land be used for photo voltaic farm developments?

It is a query being requested by farmers neighbouring a proposed photo voltaic farm in central Queensland. 

Therese Creed farms at Smoky Creek, close to the proposed web site of the Smoky Creek solar energy station, a mission that will cowl 1,800 hectares of land utilized in half for crop manufacturing.

Edify Vitality, a renewable vitality growth firm, states the mission may generate as much as 1,194,000 megawatt hours of renewable vitality per 12 months and save 995,200 tonnes in CO² emissions yearly.

However Ms Creed stated she was involved the mission could be constructed on high-quality agricultural land. 

Beforehand, land throughout the neighborhood of the proposed photo voltaic farm has been used for dryland cropping.

A group of producers from Smoky Creek sit on a pile of wood, a shed, tanks, paddocks and trees are visible in the background
Producers on properties adjoining to the proposed Smoky Creek solar energy station have considerations.(ABC Rural: Ashleigh Bagshaw)

“It is extraordinarily good-quality, food-producing land,” Ms Creed stated.

One other Smoky Creek producer Rick Tomlin stated, through the years, he had seen a wide range of crops grown on the land earmarked for the photo voltaic mission.

“The place the photo voltaic farm [will be] I’ve seen cotton, wheat, sorghum, mung beans, all of the crops grown efficiently on this land,” he stated.

Classifying the land

The state’s planning coverage and agricultural land analysis guideline outlines 4 lessons of agricultural land, with the highest-quality land designated class A by means of to land unsuitable for agriculture that’s designated class D.

Underneath Queensland’s photo voltaic farm tips, web site choice ought to be one which:

“… the place attainable avoids vital agricultural land (usually outlined as Agricultural Land Classification class A and B).”

Within the case of the Smoky Creek growth, the approval for the event of photo voltaic farms rests with the native Banana Shire Council.

In an announcement to the ABC, the Banana Shire Council stated many of the land was not categorised as both class A or class B.

“A part of the event approval for this mission was a requirement for the proponent to undertake an evaluation of the standard of the agricultural land coated by the mission,” a spokesperson stated.

A woman wearing a hat holds a handful of dirt
Smoky Creek-based producer Therese Creed is worried the solar energy station is being constructed on high-quality agricultural land.(ABC Rural: Ashleigh Bagshaw)

“Council additionally commissioned an impartial report on the standard of the agricultural land in respect to the Smoky Creek proposal and is happy that almost all of the positioning coated by the mission is class C agricultural land. 

“The conclusion was that solely 47 per cent of the positioning was class A or B with areas of soil degradation [primarily through erosion] by means of a few of these areas.

“Comply with-up correspondence […] in relation to setting circumstances recognized the extent of degradation recognized would recommend that almost all of land rated class A would actually be class C, though no proportion was provided as to how a lot.”

Fears of heavy metallic leaching from panels

Ms Creed stated, other than considerations across the high quality of the land, producers have been additionally fearful in regards to the potential impacts on their very own properties.

“We’re very, very fearful for our land,” Ms Creed stated.

Beef producer Arthur Osborne, whose property adjoins the proposed growth, stated producers have been involved about potential dangers to water provides.

“There’s quite a lot of unknowns with the panels,” Mr Osborne stated.

“As a result of our properties depend on above-ground water, there’s a concern our properties could possibly be contaminated after which we lose our livelihood with this contamination and never have the ability to produce beef.”

Nevertheless, the International Energy Agency discovered that water contamination ranges attributable to heavy metals leaching out of photo voltaic panels have been throughout the World Well being Organisation’s tips and any potential dangers to human well being from heavy metals leaching out of photo voltaic panels have been reportedly under US screening ranges.

Name to reform approval course of

Ms Creed has raised considerations that recent efforts to meet net zero emissions targets have resulted in initiatives being progressed too shortly and with out adequate scrutiny.

“Photo voltaic and renewable vitality appear to be exempt from quite a lot of guidelines, which is why they’re being authorized at an area stage. They’ll keep away from quite a lot of the purple tape that may occur on a state or federal stage,” Ms Creed stated.

“We expect that is performed this fashion purposely to hurry these items by means of as a result of the federal government is in a rush to fulfill renewable vitality targets, which is nice, but it surely must be performed sensitively.

“It must be performed fastidiously in order that different issues usually are not misplaced within the course of.”

Edify Vitality was contacted by the ABC however didn’t present a remark.

The Queensland Division of State Growth, Infrastructure, Native Authorities and Planning has been contacted for remark.

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