Wellington civic centre to host Suntop residents for solar farm discussion

Furious: Suntop's farming families are seething over what they call a lack of consultation about the potential loss of arable land due to new solar farms. Photo: Contributed.
Furious: Suntop's farming families are seething over what they call a lack of consultation about the potential loss of arable land due to new solar farms. Photo: Contributed.

Suntop farmers will host a community consultation meeting after learning about plans for Canadian Solar and Photon Energy to develop a second solar farm on property in the Suntop area. 

Residents of the small farming community located 10km southwest of Wellington, will host a meeting at the Wellington Civic Centre at 7pm on Wednesday, November 28.

A spokesperson for Photon Energy told the Wellington Times a representative from the company would be present at the meeting on Wednesday night. 

Community concerns over the loss of arable land planned solar farm have been compounded by what local farming families consider a lack of consultation.

Aaron Rich, a local farmer who has property bordering the planned Suntop Solar Farm 1 claims he didn’t receive any sort of consultation with the company until he rang up to quiz them about the purchase of property for the second solar farm.

“The lack of consultation from Photon is an insult,” Mr Rich said.

However, Photon Energy Managing Director Michael Gartner has stated their ongoing consultations are addressing concerns raised within the community. 

“We will continue consulting the community as we progress through the planning process,” Mr Gartner said.

“In response to issues raised during the first round of consultation, the Suntop Two project plans are being revised to retain the existing house and surrounding trees.”

Sam Frogley, whose family has farmed his property Rosebank for five generations, remains unconvinced. 

“This is some of the best land in the district for cropping and grazing, when you look at it, 91 per cent of it is arable, so why would you build the biggest solar farm in Australia on land that’s so productive?” Mr Frogley said.

“The Solar Farm will use the very latest single-axis solar panel technology which tracks the sun’s movement to maximise solar production and minimise panel density allowing for continued agricultural use,” Mr Gartner said.