CALL FOR CHANGE: Farmer Wayne Newton wants local government to change how it assesses solar farm projects.
CALL FOR CHANGE: Farmer Wayne Newton wants local government to change how it assesses solar farm projects. Michael Doyle

Farmers call for council to protect land from solar projects

GUIDELINES for new solar farm projects has become a hot topic for members of the agricultural industry.

Farmers gathered at the Dalby Leagues Club recently to discuss guidelines proposed by the State Government for new solar farms to adhere to.

The main issue raised at the meeting was the impact of solar farms on farmers, particularly solar farms built near properties, or on prime agricultural land.

But Kupunn farmer Wayne Newton wants the Western Downs Regional Council to take steps to help the region's agricultural industry from solar energy projects.

Mr Newton said the council should adopt an impact assessment when considering new solar farm applications, rather than a code assessment which he said did not fully consider the impact to neighbouring areas.

"Agriculture is not opposed to solar farms, in fact farmers are probably the original solar farmers," Mr Newton said.

"Our only real issue is solar farms shouldn't be located on class A and class B agricultural land.

"In Queensland we don't have a whole lot of good farming dirt, it is a pretty scarce commodity."

Mr Newton said many farmers he talked to were concerned about high- quality land being taken up by solar farms and the impacts that would have.

One of those farmers is Chinchilla's Terry O'Leary who agreed solar farm projects should be assessed on the impact to the land.

"I don't see how a quarter of a million dollar power plant should only be code assessable. It should be impact assessable," Mr O'Leary said.

"I think it would be very naive to not anticipate some sort of devaluation of the land of the neighbouring properties."

Western Downs Mayor Paul McVeigh said following the code-assessable guidelines was the best method for new projects, and every step was taken to ensure there would not be a negative impact.