Independent Member for Shepparton District Suzanna Sheed says she will continue to advocate for the best outcome for the region’s prime agriculture industry in the face of inappropriate solar farm development.
Ms Sheed and a small delegation of local farmers met with Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford today to share their concerns about the potential negative impact of solar farms on the region’s extensive food production industry following a meeting with Minister for Planning Richard Wynne last month.
Ms Sheed called on the Government to develop state-wide guidelines for solar planning in February after Greater Shepparton City Council requested Minister Wynne to rule on four local solar farm applications.
“Agriculture is at the heart of the Shepparton District economy, but this is an issue that will have significant implications for all food-producing regions across Victoria,” Ms Sheed said.
“We welcome renewable energy investment, but it must be located appropriately and when millions of dollars are being invested in ensuring our irrigation future is sustainable I would argue that prime land on the irrigation backbone is certainly not appropriate.
“It struck me as surprising that there were no guidelines in place already given the increased interest in renewable energies, but it is pleasing to see the Government take heed of my call to address this as a matter of urgency.”
Ms Sheed said she took the delegation to Parliament following a Panels Victoria hearing in May to ensure the Government was hearing from all relevant parties.
“While the Panels Victoria hearing was an appropriate forum for the issues around these developments to be aired, it is often the case that community members do not have the resources or expertise to adequately support their case with technical arguments and supporting research,” Ms Sheed said.
“Ultimately, it is the Minister who must take into account the panel’s recommendations and any other relevant material and make a decision, and I felt it was important for him to hear directly from farmers who understand the reality on the ground.”
Riahn Smith 0419 138 978│firstname.lastname@example.org