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Byron Shire
June 16, 2021

Farmlands at RISK?

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I read with scepticism this week Paul Bibby’s story that Council felt compelled to vote unanimously to express concern with the State government’s proposed Agritourism policy, which will ‘compromise regionally significant farming and food production by stealth’.
Talk about inconsistency in Council policy statements and policy direction!
Simon Richardson’s recent parting salvo was to push through the vote and forge ahead with finalising a DA for the Council’s massive industrial solar farm development at Dingo Lane within the iconic Myocum farmlands.
As soon as it’s approved, other private landowners will have a strong case to put forward many more massive solar farms in the historic Myocum farming valley.
Many of the surrounding farmland landowners have been approached to develop similar facilities to the one proposed by Council at Dingo Lane.
Council’s own business case financial reports say it’s a bad deal for ratepayers, as argued by three councillors at a recent meeting; Council insists it will saddle ratepayers with a $12 million debt which will take years to pay off. If the solar rebates go pear-shaped over time, as expected, the debt may never be paid off.

The fact that the same facility could be built much more cheaply as a joint venture by Byron Council out west with an appropriate like-minded western NSW council and get an outcome that is much better value for money and still achieving the desired lower emissions outcome so desired by Council is irrelevant apparently.

At the same time the valuable Council block could be sold for use as farmlands as its zoning was intended.

But as Simon once shouted at me in an email; we just want to see the valley filled with solar panels because the ‘tourists and locals will really love the added interest of seeing lots of solar panels in the rural valley’… go figure. And this week they are concerned with State government policy which puts farmlands at risk of inappropriate development – a sad case of flip, flop policy on the run. Change in mayor [but] no change in the Council’s inconsistent approach on key policy.

Please demand during the upcoming DA process for the Dingo Lane facility that if Council is determined to borrow big and build a solar facility to help with a worthy net zero emissions target that they should build a cheaper, more efficient, superior value for money facility in joint venture with a like-minded western NSW council, and build it out west before the Myocum valley farmlands are decimated in visual amenity and value as a food producing farming resource.

Solar in the Myocum Valley!? How many sunny days did we get recently between December and March… not many.

Build out west where the land is flat, flood free and the sun always shines… makes too much sense for our Council to seriously consider apparently.

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