SOLAR FARMS SHOULDN'T BE ON IRRIGABLE LAND
As most would know arguably two-thirds of Australia's land mass is arid or semi-arid. Only four to six per cent is arable.
This is compared to countries like New Zealand (11 per cent) and China (12 per cent). More importantly, less than one per cent of New South Wales is irrigable.
Why then would the NSW Government allow any solar industrial complexes known as 'solar farms' to be established in the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area?
It is bad enough, with so little land being available for potential food and fibre production that these complexes are placed on arable land but to place them on irrigation land is ludicrous.
While both state and federal governments are promoting this farce and the state government is subsidising these operations within the MIA.
The federal government is spending hundreds of millions of dollars in refurbishing the MIA to obtain efficiencies and save water. They then allow this land to be covered with solar industrial complexes?
Perhaps if we were getting cheaper power there could be a small but puerile argument, but the cost of power continues to rise.
For various reasons, mostly economic, some in the 'Area' have sold or leased their land for these complexes.
Whatever the situation, the placing of every square metre of solar absorber means a loss to our area and the diminution of both Leeton and Griffith and smaller settlements within the MIA..
Within the Murray Darling Basin the economic multiplier indicates that on irrigation land the multiplier effect is 3.5, meaning that for every $1000 of farm gate revenue generated there is additional $3500 of dependent activity.
With solar industrial complexes the ongoing income for the MIA is next to zero.
In the medium to long-term the only ones to gain from these complexes are the mainly foreign-owned companies that are gathering like bees around a honey pot when government money is provided.
An argument mainly used by these companies is that a lot of labour will be required during the construction phase, but this is mainly a one-off event, even for some of the local business houses who provide odds and ends.
The labour comprises mainly of backpackers who are here today and gone tomorrow. Permanently based staff will be next to nil.
The development application I have read and also others known of, state that after 35 years the company will remove the detritus.
A lot can happen in that time. Companies can go into liquidation, be sold off, etc. Then local government will have a legal battle on their hands to have the land restored to its original state. Being mainly foreign companies, who will lose that battle at enormous cost to ratepayers?
Can you imagine what the soil will be like after 35 years of weed control?
I am not opposed to solar industrial complexes being located in suitable locations but to place them on even potentially agriculturally productive irrigation land is vandalism of the worst kind.
Noel Hicks, Griffith
CHANCE FOR GOVERNMENT TO STEP IN
The proposed closure of Win studios in Wagga Wagga, Albury, Dubbo,and other regional centres will greatly disadvantage country New South Wales.
This is where a canny government with 'nouse' would meet the challenge by injecting additional funding into the ABC, and enable it to fill the void.
Regional ABC already presents some local news bulletins each weekday, as well as rural reports, but there is room for expansion.
Country residents are at risk of not knowing what is happening in their own hometown and region, especially now that local newspapers may also be closed down.