GUNNEDAH mayor Jamie Chaffey wasn’t swayed by a recent report which revealed Narrabri could double its employment opportunities if it turned its back on coal seam gas and pursued renewable power.
While the report, commissioned by environmental group Lock The Gate, focused on the neighbouring Narrabri Shire and its potential energy developments, there are a range of renewable projects on the boil in Gunnedah.
The mayor said he wouldn’t discriminate between renewable energy and extracted power when it came to projects in the shire which would lead to greater levels of employment and comply with regulations.
“As far as Gunnedah Shire Council is concerned, we supportive of all projects that provide employment,” he said.
“We won’t discriminate on any project that puts long term stability into the region.
“It could be a mining, renewables or a processing facility like an abattoir, if it puts confidence into the community and creates the jobs, we want to know about it.”
The report was conducted by the University of Technology Sydney’s Institute for Sustainable Futures.
“I have modelled renewable energy scenarios all around the world and the potential in Narrabri is exciting,” report author Sven Teske said.
“Renewable energy markets are leaping ahead and if this district chooses to use its natural advantages, it could generate 500 permanent skilled local jobs by 2030, on a fraction of the land area that the proposed coal seam gasfield would occupy.”
The institute undertook modelling of the renewable energy potential of Narrabri Shire, producing two scenarios of renewable energy development in the region, an Advanced Renewables Export Scenario and a Renewables Export Scenario.
Mapping of solar and wind resources and industry price and employment data were used to estimate the investment and jobs potential of the two scenarios.
Both Photon Energy and Orange Grove Sun Farm (child company of Overland Sun Farming) are currently in the midst of community consultation to establish solar farms on Orange Grove Road near Gunnedah.
Photon is proposing a 155 megawatt solar farm with an estimated capital investment of $201 million solar farm while Orange Grove Sun Farm is proposing a 110 megawatt solar farm with an estimated capital investment of $120 million.