NSW Deputy Premier Paul Toole said he's supportive of an action group's continued push to prevent the development of a 60-megawatt solar farm at Glanmire, which they believe will permanently impact prime cultivation land.
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The project, first proposed by Elgin Energy in late 2020, is in the process of finalising a draft environmental impact statement [EIS], which will be submitted to the NSW Department of Planning and Environment [DPE] in the coming months.
Despite being identified as a 'state significant development' by the DPE, Mr Toole said he'll continue to back the Glanmire Action Group in their push to put a stop to the project.
"I've continued to share the community's concern in relation to the proposed solar farm project at Glanmire and its impact on prime agricultural land," Mr Toole said.
"I'll continue to advocate on their behalf."
Mr Toole previously backed the same group in 2017 when they opposed, and seemingly forced into limbo, the development of a $145 million solar farm at Brewongle.
A spokesperson from Elgin Energy said the company has carried out in depth community consultation activities across a range of channels to understand the community sentiment towards the Glanmire solar farm proposal.
"While we recognise and are working through the concerns of some near neighbours, the feedback received from the broader community on the whole has been positive," the spokesperson said.
"Outside of the discussions with the Glanmire Action Group, we have found that the majority of people are supportive of this project and of renewable energy in general.
"The project's online survey (which was promoted via letters, email, newspaper ads, social media and at the information sessions) showed that around 70 per cent of respondents support the project, while 14 per cent are neutral and 14 per cent oppose."
Elgin Energy and the Glanmire Action Group continue to clash over the project, which came to a head in a heated confrontation during the final consultation session prior to the submission of the EIS in May.
The spokesperson said the Glanmire Action Group were given plenty of opportunities for cohesive discussion around the project via Community Consultative Committee [CCC] meetings.
"This was the first large scale solar project in NSW to require a CCC," the spokesperson said.
"There were four CCC meetings and a site visit to ensure that key stakeholders (including the Glanmire Action Group) were kept informed, had the opportunity of constructive dialogue, and could make comment on key issues including the design of the project.
"Unfortunately, the Glanmire Action Group lead representative (Peter Hennessey) resigned from the CCC after the first meeting and in subsequent meetings, all other action group members resigned from the CCC.
"These actions denied the group a fantastic opportunity for detailed dialogue with Elgin Energy and their consultants regarding any issues and objections they had with the project.
The spokesperson said "outside of the CCC, Elgin has engaged with Bathurst Regional Council, the Bathurst Business Chamber, Bathurst Community Climate Action Network, Rotary, Indigenous leaders, local institutions, and local media."
"Elgin has gone far beyond a typical community and stakeholder engagement process for a project of this scale to ensure genuine dialogue is achieved based on accurate information about the project and its impacts.
"Full details of the engagement activities and outcomes will be documented in the EIS."
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