Richmond Valley Solar Farm Newsletter - October 2023
Local information sessions for the Richmond Valley Solar Farm were held in early September at Ellangowan Community Hall and the Casino Community & Cultural Centre. The sessions were well attended and gave local community members an opportunity to discuss the proposal with members of the project team.
Ark Energy sincerely thanks everyone who took the time to attend. We appreciate the valuable local insights that were shared and the feedback we received.
What we heard
The following key topics were raised by attendees:
- Bushfire – including management of on-site vegetation, potential for changes to fire risk and the microclimate, and emergency procedures.
- Flooding and severe weather - and how impacts of these would be managed.
- Visual impacts - including what the solar farm would look like from surrounding areas and whether the panels would reflect glint or glare from the sun.
- Property values – and whether these would be affected by the project.
- Project benefits – and how these might be shared with the wider community.
- Health – including chemical elements in solar panels and battery components and whether there were any associated contamination hazards.
- Ecology – including biodiversity and wildlife in the project area and how potential impacts would be managed.
- Roads and transport – including the potential impact on local roads, traffic management and safety, and required road upgrades.
- Project lifespan and decommissioning – including the decommissioning process and how solar panel components will be replaced or recycled.
- Participation in the process - and how feedback from community members will be incorporated into the project’s design.
The project is at an early stage so answers to some of these questions are not yet known but by engaging early with the local community Ark Energy can better understand local concerns and priorities, and factor these into the project’s design.
More information on these topics will be shared with the community as soon as it is available, and many will be assessed in detail by technical specialists as part of the project’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
The preliminary materials that were shared at the session are available here.
Invitation: Social Impact Assessment Survey
Umwelt Environmental Consultants are undertaking a Social Impact Assessment for the project. Local community members are invited to contribute to this assessment by completing this short survey. The survey is open until Thursday, 31 October.
More information on matters raised by community members at the information sessions will be prepared and shared as soon as possible through newsletters and future sessions. When the next information sessions are confirmed details will be notified through a newsletter and on this website.
In the meantime, work for the various technical assessments required is underway. Requirements for the project's EIS are outlined in its Planning Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements (SEARs) issued by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment (DPE).
Specialist studies that will address matters raised by community members include the Preliminary Hazards Analysis, Social Impact Assessment, Water Resources Impact Assessment, Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment, Biodiversity Development Assessment Report, and Traffic and Transport Impact Assessment.
As the assessment work is completed and more information about the site becomes available, the project’s design may be refined accordingly.
At this stage the project team estimates that the proposal could be finalised and the EIS ready to lodge with the Department of Planning and Environment during Q2 2024.
Download the Richmond Valley Solar Farm Newsletter - October 2023