Rio Indygen says proposed solar farm at Vacy will create jobs

FARM: Residents have received letters about the plan for a solar farm near Vacy.
FARM: Residents have received letters about the plan for a solar farm near Vacy.

Plans are afoot to build a large solar panel farm close to the township of historic Vacy.

Rio Indygen has confirmed it will submit a development application to Dungog Shire Council to seek approval for the renewable energy project.

The Australian company, which has a British branch, has secured an option to lease a 50 hectare parcel of land.

If approved, it would take about six months to establish the 25 megawatt farm and it would run for 30 years.

After that it would either be upgraded or decommissioned.

Power from the farm would be sent to the substation at nearby Martins Creek.

Rio Indygen, has revealed there will be up to 20 jobs while the farm is being built and two or three will continue after the construction phase has finished.

But it is not known how much power the farm will generate.

Project manager Andy Barrow would not answer that question, saying it was "commercially sensitive information" and "not publicly available".

He would not say why the company had set its sights on Vacy or reveal how long the project had been in the pipeline, sighting the same reasons.

"The project will have a positive effect on the environment, providing CO2 emissions-free electricity to the grid," he said,

"The site itself will benefit from an improved ecosystem.

"The wider economic impact of the building of the solar farm will be felt during the 6 month construction phase.

"This will include spending at hotels, shops, restaurants, equipment, plant and material suppliers."

Mr Barrow revealed the company had considered sites at Martins Creek before it started looking at Vacy.

He said there were not any suitable land parcels in Martins Creek.

The plan has ruffled Vacy residents who are concerned about the environmental and visual impact, as well as the affect on agriculture.

Terence Pitkin said the proposed site had been previously used for cattle grazing and included the floodplain where the Paterson and Allyn rivers met.

"It doesn't matter how you feel about renewable energy, the farm would be in the direct line of sight of up to 50 rural properties in the valley around Vacy as well as the school playground and sports oval," he said.

"It would bring the industrialisation of a rural landscape.

"It would change the rural character of the beautiful valley that we have. I think the only reason they are doing this is because of the proximity to the substation.

"This is going to have a full-on impact."

Mr Pitkin is leading the fight against the project, creating a Vacy Village Action Group.