BATHURST MP Paul Toole has been dragged into the debate over a proposed solar farm at Brewongle after opponents revealed the land is owned by one of his relatives.
The 190 hectare parcel of land at Brewongle has long be used for agriculture, but it could soon make way for a 129 MWp (megawatt peak) capacity solar power plant.
Since Photon Energy Australia Pty Ltd revealed it will soon lodge plans for the facility, the Western Advocate has been contacted repeatedly by concerned residents.
Mr Toole said on Wednesday he had only become aware of the solar farm proposal on Monday after neighbours raised the issue with him.
He said he had not spoken to the land holders about the plan, but admitted he had some concerns.
“Issues such as visual impact, noise, environmental safeguards, disturbance to farming operations and livestock, biodiversity risks such as pest, diseases and weeds, impacts on property values and operational concerns must be considered,” he said.
“I am still to be convinced that Bathurst is a good location given our environment where we experience long cold winters and fog for long periods of the year.”
Mr Toole said any position he took on the solar farm would not be based on who owned the land but, rather, on the concerns of the community.
“This is not about family. I’ve got a different view and this is about raising the community’s concerns,” he said.
“I’ve had no conversations with the owners of the property.”
The Western Advocate has received a letter from unnamed Brewongle residents who oppose the solar farm, saying it should not be built on prime agricultural land and would decrease the value of surrounding properties.
The residents said a more appropriate place should be found further away from Bathurst.
“Whilst we are all for solar energy and alternative energy sources, we do not believe placing it in the middle of prime rural land is the appropriate way to progress,” the letter said.
Photon Energy Australia Pty Ltd will hold a community consultation meeting on Wednesday, September 6 at 6.30pm at Raglan Community Hall on Frome Street for anyone interested in the Brewongle Solar Farm.
For further information contact Photon Energy at firstname.lastname@example.org.