A NUMBER of Gunnedah locals are anxiously awaiting the next step in a major solar farm proposed for the area.
Photon Energy is preparing to submit its Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for a 155-megawatt solar farm. The farm would be established on a 692-hectare site on Orange Grove Road, which is parallel to Tudgey Road.
On Tuesday, a spokesperson for Photon Energy said the company is “finalising the EIS submission for Gunnedah”, which will be submitted to the Department of Planning and Environment
We anticipate that this will be formally submitted next week and placed on public exhibition shortly after.- Photon Energy spokesperson
“We anticipate that this will be formally submitted next week and placed on public exhibition shortly after,” the spokesperson said.
Colin and Jennie Kember are among the residents who await the outcome.
When the couple purchased land at the end of Tudgey Road, they thought they had their own little slice of paradise.
This vision has been somewhat shattered by Photon Energy’s proposed 300-hectare solar farm.
They try and tell us that it’s not going to affect us, but how will it not affect us?- Colin Kember
The Kembers’ property has a direct view out over the area where the footprint is currently proposed, and they’re not happy.
“They try and tell us that it’s not going to affect us, but how will it not affect us?” Mr Kember said.
“Our main selling point down the track is visual, which is why we bought it.”
His wife said they scrimped and saved for the 611 acres of property.
“We always strove to get to this point; 12 months down the track, this happened,” Mrs Kember said.
“It’s pretty disappointing when something you’ve been striving for, for your whole life is impacted by something like this.”
In March, a Photon Energy spokesperson said the footprint had been recently revised to “minimise the impact of flooding and accommodate the tracking panels”.
The revisions followed meetings with Orange Grove Road residents who had concerns about its original proposed position on a floodplain and the proximity to their properties.
“Following the recent community consultation, we have taken on board neighbours’ concerns and have moved the solar farm a further 600 metres away from Orange Grove Road,” Gunnedah solar farm manager Nick Guzowski said on behalf of Photon Energy in March.
Photon Energy proposes to maintain vegetation, “particularly trees to the north of the solar farm so as to minimise visual impact”.
Solar company Overland Sun Farming is hot on Photon Energy’s heels, proposing a 110-megawatt farm on Orange Grove, with an estimated capital investment of $120 million.
The company held its first community consultation meetings in March, with many locals raising concerns surrounding potential impact of flooding, traffic measures and the impact on visual outlook.
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