Page 3329 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 18 September 2013

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Ironically most of the homes in Uriarra face towards the proposed site because of the development rules; so it is not something in their backyard but in their front yard. The key design objective in Uriarra Village has always been to maintain the rural character of the village. The exhaustive set of criteria which needs to be followed by those building there is only to ensure this aim is achieved.

Madam Speaker, one family who live in Uriarra and who have raised their concerns over this proposal moved there a few years ago. Previously they lived in Macarthur. But five years ago when there was a plan to build a gas-fired power station near their home in the middle of suburbia, they decided to move. Although the power station plan was eventually scuttled by community opposition, they made the decision to go to the rural village of Uriarra for the atmosphere and community for their young children.

It was obviously an unwelcome surprise when it became known they would face similar concerns years later in an even more unreasonable location. This time, instead of being one kilometre from their home, it may be just over 100 metres from their home. How is this fair?

Elementus Energy have a statement on their website. Part of that statement says, “The solar farm is to be located in the district of Coree approximately 30 kilometres to the west of Canberra. It is to be located on 40 hectares of rural grazing land and will complement the current land use.” If you read that statement on its own without any knowledge of the village of Uriarra, that might sound very reasonable. But I pose the question: how does a 26,000 panel solar farm complement the current land use? How does it complement this lovely rural village?

I echo Mr Wall’s comments and I encourage the minister to listen to the residents of Uriarra and work with the proponent to identify an area of land that is not so close to people’s homes. I encourage the minister to guarantee the people of Uriarra that he will not use his call-in powers to progress the development. I encourage the minister to listen to what the residents are saying, to gain an understanding of the situation they are in and genuinely take a moment to consider the consequences for these families and this community.

Again, I thank Mr Wall for bringing this motion to the house today and I urge the minister to consider the views of the Uriarra community.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (11.28): Madam Speaker, I rise to support Mr Wall and thank him for bringing the motion on. It is very simple. It is about saying to the proponent: we are not against a solar power station. We are against it at this site. Save yourself the time and the expense. If you are desperate, Mr Corbell, to have this power station built, the quickest way is to put it on an appropriate site from the start. So this is about saying to business that we are actually here to help you get your solar power station built as quickly as we can in the appropriate site. More importantly, it is about saying to the people who live next door to it that we do not want you to live through the stress of this process that could stretch on for months and months and months.

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