Brewongle Solar Farm: Opposition from residents

SAM Bonanno is among many dozens of Brewongle and Glanmire residents who say a proposed solar farm will have negative impacts on the region.

The 203 hectare parcel of land at Brewongle has long been owned by a local family and used for agriculture, but it could soon make way for a 129 MWp (megawatt peak) capacity solar power plant.

In the lead up to Photon Energy Australia submitting an application to construct the facility, they called a public meeting on Wednesday night.

Mr Bonanno and his wife Polly were among around 80 very vocal residents and community members who attended to voice their opposition to the farm.

He said the site of the proposed power plant was prime agricultural land and it should not be used for a commercial operation.

Mr and Mrs Bonanno run cattle on their 510 acre property which is only separated from the proposed power plant by a train track.

Guidelines stipulate solar panels can be installed as close as 20 metres from the centre of the tracks.

“You will see it from the house,” Mr Bonanno said of the extensive solar panels that will be erected just off his property’s southern boarder.

“I’m totally against it, it’s prime agricultural land being used for a solar farm.”

Glanmire resident Cassie Mackender will also be able to see solar panels from her home if plans go ahead.

“I’m going to see it, I have a vested interest in not seeing it,” she said.

“People coming into Bathurst will see it form the railway line.”

Ms Mackender agreed that with limited prime agricultural land around Bathurst that the community could not afford to loose this land to a commercial operation.

She said, however, the community was supportive of solar power, but called on Photon Energy Australia to consider a new location.

“I don’t think anyone opposes it, it just shouldn’t be on prime land,” she said.

“It can easily be on slightly less productive land, it just costs more [for Photon Energy to construct it].”

Ms Mackender called on Bathurst Regional Council to support residents in their objection to the proposed farm.

“They [Photon] clearly should have involved council. Our council is very particular with subdivisions of agricultural land,” she said.

However, because the development has been deemed a project of state significance, final approval will come from the NSW Department of Planning and Environment, not council.

Ms Mackender said residents will continue to oppose the development.

“The first step is to meet with the council. I think they should be on side with us,” she said.

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