"Inaccurate" use of flooding data, visual impact and lack of "transparency" were some objections to a solar farm slated for the Gunnedah area, at an Independent Planning Commission (IPC) public meeting this morning.
About 20 people attended the meeting on Orange Grove Solar Farm in the Smithurst Theatre - however, despite 77 submissions lodged for and against it during the exhibition period, only four people registered to speak.
The project is with the IPC after the NSW Department of Planning & Environment listed it "approvable".
The panel heard from Jason Gibson from proponent company Overland Sun Farming, plus Breeza farmer John Hamparsum, Kelvin's Geoff Hood and landowner Pixi Mix.
Mr Hamparsum is part of the Farmers for Climate Action group and spoke in support of the project as a source of renewable energy and employment.
"Solar power is good for our environment ... [and] is a great way to reduce our carbon footprint," he said.
"I encourage as many renewable energy projects as possible to reduce our carbon footprint and I see the Orange Grove Solar Farm as a very positive step towards a renewable energy future for both this generation and generations in the future."
Mr Hood, a fellow farmer, objected based on "inaccurate floodplain statements by the consultants in the initial environmental impact statements for the solar farm".
"They stated the proposed solar development was above the historical flood height of the Naomi Valley and that a first-order stream did not exist, despite contrary information shown in maps and in the Carroll to Boggabri floodplain management plan," Mr Hood said.
"For them to say the site doesn't flood is incorrect."
Mr Hood said the proponent should be basing its prediction on information from the one-in-100-year flood in 1955, not the 1984 flood.
"To compare a development's flood impact to a measured height downstream is effectively like looking in your rear-view mirror for any oncoming traffic - a recipe for disaster," he said.
"This is a project of state significance - the facts need to be correct."
Ms Mix spoke on behalf of her family, who live close to the proposed site. She said she was upset by the site's proximity, the consultation process and the proposed use of "prime agricultural land for large-scale solar farms".
"There is so much area available for the project and yet its current and compact design lies very close beside one home and boundary," Ms Mix said.
"The current situation is neither consistent or acceptable."
Mr Gibson told the IPC that Overland Sun Farming had taken resident's concerns into account, increasing the distance between shared boundaries and the proposed site, and retaining vegetation.
The IPC also met with Gunnedah Shire Council about the project on Monday afternoon.
A spokesperson said the IPC panel would now "go away and consider all the information that they have".
"If there are any issues that arise from the meeting, they might go back to the applicant or the department for further information," they said.
But the IPC will be looking to make a determination as soon as possible; usually [it's] about six or seven weeks from when it's referred to a determination.
People who wish to make written comments can do so by June 11 - they will be weighted the same as spoken presentations.