Suntop property owners raise concern about salinity due to solar farm development

Concerned: Sam, Aaron and Malcolm Rich along with Neil Frogley. Photo: Contributed.
Concerned: Sam, Aaron and Malcolm Rich along with Neil Frogley. Photo: Contributed.

A concerned resident in the Suntop community has spoken out about a perceived risk to plantations organised by land care groups in order to combat salinity in the region’s arable land. 

Malcolm Rich is one of the community’s property owners and while he doesn’t see any risk to his property as a result of the planned Suntop Solar farms 1 and 2, he has seen what he sees as an issue for the wider community at large with the risk of increased salinity as a result of the removal of trees in the areas planned for development. 

“The removal of trees, that’s the issue, those trees were put there to combat salinity, they’re pulling down trees that are twenty, thirty years of age, when they were paid for by Land Care,” Mr Rich said. 

The trees were planted as part of a long term effort to reduce concentrations of salinity in the land around Suntop.

If allowed to build up, increased salinity and salt-levels in the earth can prevent plants and crops form drawing out the water and nutrition they require to survive, particularly near the root areas.

There’s known salinity on the area where stage 1 is being built, I read the 240 pages of documentation twice and I couldn’t see any mention of salinity in the application.

Malcolm Rich

A spokesperson for Suntop Solar claimed that ‘extensive studies’ had taken place to ensure that the first solar farm had as little of an environmental impact as possible before construction could begin due to their obligations under the Environmental Impact Statement process.

The same studies will take place soon for the second solar farm.

“We need to choose where we’re putting these solar farms. Their own environmentalists do the work and we were introduced to one of them, the question really is who’s paying them.” Mr Rich said.

Request for comment was sent to Little River Land Care, they were unable to respond in time for publication.