Farmer fights Orange solar farm 'blight' planned for adjacent property

RURAL ANGER: Farmer Rob Green is upset about plans for 12,180 solar panels to be built in 140 rows on this land next to his property. Photo: JUDE KEOGH

RURAL ANGER: Farmer Rob Green is upset about plans for 12,180 solar panels to be built in 140 rows on this land next to his property. Photo: JUDE KEOGH

Orange farmer Rob Green is fighting plans to build a solar farm next to his property claiming it will be a 'blight' on the rural area.

Mr Green said the area off the Mitchell Highway six kilometres north-west of Orange will be ruined with the installation of 12,180 solar panels in 140 rows across 10.8 hectares of farm land.

An amended development application for the $9.8 million project is on public exhibition at Orange City Council.

Mr Green said he, and other landowners, had lodged submissions opposing previous plans for the farm and he would continue to fight.

They say the development is 790 metres from my place. It is next door.

Rob Green, landowner

"I don't want it here," he said.

"It is going to be so visual. It is going to be a blight for [motorists] coming into the city."

Mr Green said his property looked down onto the solar farm site.

He likened his future view to looking at a scrap yard of old cars.

"There is just going to be all this metal in the middle [of a rural area]," he said.

FUTURE SITE: The solar farm will be on this property. Photo: JUDE KEOGH

FUTURE SITE: The solar farm will be on this property. Photo: JUDE KEOGH

However, a spokesman for the developers ITP Development said the company had listened to community feedback and amended the plans for the Orange Community Renewable Energy Park.

That included using a smaller area of land, less solar panels, extra landscaping to screen the view and moving the access road.

He said they hoped to start construction early next year.

Mr Green said the amended DA had moved the solar panels closer to his property.

"They say the development is 790 metres from my place. It is next door," he said.

"The closest point to my boundary is 70 metres," Mr Green said.

He said the solar panels, which would tilt to follow the sun during the day, would be higher at their peak than the gutters on his house.

Mr Green said the first plan for the solar farm proposed using his laneway as access to the site without his knowledge.

He said he was not opposed to sustainability.

"I am a greenie, I have planted 2000 native trees," he said.

FUTURE VIEW: An impression of how the solar panels will initially look, before screening, from a car on the Mitchell Highway.

FUTURE VIEW: An impression of how the solar panels will initially look, before screening, from a car on the Mitchell Highway.

'I've never even seen my property looking as good as it does now."

He said about 20 local residents had met to oppose the farm.

Mr Green said he was also concerned about safety in the area due to increased traffic for the farm.

The spokesman for ITP Developments said the solar farm had the capacity to provide electricity requirements for 2150 households.

He said the project had been awarded a $3.5 million grant under the NSW government's Regional Community Energy Fund.

"Our project partner, Energy Democracy, is assisting a local co-operative which will provide members with the opportunity to co-invest in the project," he said.

"This will allow residents who may not have access to rooftop solar or storage the opportunity to source renewable electricity for their homes."

He said the project would create 50 jobs during construction.

"ITP Development is working towards commencing construction in the first quarter of 2021," he said.

The spokesman said they would work with council and Transport for NSW on traffic safety issues.

The DA will be on public exhibition at the council's offices and website until Monday September 28.

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