LETTER: Consultation needs to start all over again on solar farm

SOLAR SESSION: Photon Energy Australia representatives fronted an angry crowd at a consultation meeting held earlier this month. Photo: NADINE MORTON 090617nmsolar3
SOLAR SESSION: Photon Energy Australia representatives fronted an angry crowd at a consultation meeting held earlier this month. Photo: NADINE MORTON 090617nmsolar3

OUR region, and in particular the Brewongle residents, were gatecrashed by Photon Energy’s plans to construct their solar farm.

Before this so-called ‘consultation meeting’ on September 6, many Brewongle residents were aware:

  • Brewongle, O’Connell, and Glanmire is prime rural land with a lifestyle to match.
  • This area is zoned by Bathurst Regional Environmental Plan 2014 as RU1.
  • The proposed development of Photon Energy is inconsistent with the regional plan, the environment and with the residents’ properties and investments.
  • Photon Energy had been in the Brewongle area for many months making its plans without extending the courtesy or doing the decent thing of consulting council, real estate agents and/or residents about its plans - with the aim of finding a location acceptable, or reasonably acceptable, to all.

This was the time for meaningful and responsible research and consultation, but the company didn’t do that and at the ‘consultation meeting’, some other matters quickly became clear to the residents.

Firstly, the ‘consultation meeting’ was to advise residents what was happening whether we liked it or not. Many of us found this strident and ill-mannered - and it could have been avoided.

Did you know that Photon contemplates installing 397,556 panels on this land and surrounding the place with a 2.4 metre cyclone wire fence?

They didn’t mention the fence, just planting a few trees, and yet they didn’t know of the ‘treeless plains’ of Brewongle.

Furthermore, they were patronising residents when they suggested that the 300,000 panels covering 500 acres will look like ‘a row of trees’.

This is to mention just a few irritations to the responsible residents who attended the consultation meeting.

Some other points, which the residents of Brewongle would like to point out:

  • Many of us residents like solar power but there is no point in having ‘green’ energy and at the same time destroying and damaging good (green) land, especially when you can have both.
  • Some of us have solar-powered homes and they are non-invasive to others. It is a win for the consumer and the environment.
  • Some say the approach by residents to this proposal was ‘not in my backyard’. If this was their approach, then it was for good and proper reason.

The clear message the residents conveyed at the meeting was don’t disregard council, its environmental plan and those law-abiding residents who have put their life savings into their places.

That is bad manners and bad practice.

Why not work together, but from a point in time that is meaningful and constructive, rather than a point in time when as far as the proponent is concerned, the horse has bolted.

Since Photon needlessly gate-crashed our region and location, and presented us with its decision already made, we are forced to fight to conserve our neighbourhood as we have every right to do.

Brad Green, Brewongle,

On behalf of the residents of Brewongle