As the city awaits a decision from Victoria’s planning minister on four solar developments, State Member for Shepparton Suzanna Sheed has renewed her calls for a set of guidelines to ensure solar farms are appropriately located.
Ms Sheed and a group of farmers met with Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford this week, after last month meeting with Planning Minister Richard Wynne on the issue.
‘‘Agriculture is at the heart of the Shepparton district economy, but this is an issue that will have significant implications for all food-producing regions across Victoria,’’ Ms Sheed said following this week’s meeting.
‘‘We welcome renewable energy investment, but it must be located appropriately and when millions of dollars are being invested in ensuring our irrigation future is sustainable I would argue that prime land on the irrigation backbone is certainly not appropriate.’’
Ms Sheed said she found it surprising no guidelines were in place given the level of interest in renewable energy production.
‘‘While the Panels Victoria hearing was an appropriate forum for the issues around these developments to be aired, it is often the case that community members do not have the resources or expertise to adequately support their case with technical arguments and supporting research,’’ Ms Sheed said.
‘‘Ultimately, it is the minister who must take into account the panel’s recommendations and any other relevant material and make a decision, and I felt it was important for him to hear directly from farmers who understand the reality on the ground.’’