Solar farm siting questioned

By Country News

The Victorian Nationals have taken the issue of solar farms on prime agricultural land to State Parliament.

State Member for Northern Victoria Luke O’Sullivan questioned Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford about what protection, if any, would be put in place to ensure that solar developments would not threaten the viability of prime irrigated agriculture land in the Goulburn Valley, in parliament last week.

Mr O’Sullivan was dissatisfied with a response to questions he put to Ms Pulford in question time.

He asked if Agriculture Victoria would have meaningful input into the development of guidelines to protect high-value agricultural land.

Ms Pulford responded: ‘‘Agriculture Victoria has input into a lot of different things that are occurring in other portfolios, and it is always high value.’’

Mr O’Sullivan asked Ms Pulford what involvement Agriculture Victoria had in the development of these guidelines to date.

She said the work was being led by Planning Minister Richard Wynne and his department.

‘‘Agriculture Victoria are being consulted in the development of the guidelines and will continue to be involved in those,’’ Ms Pulford said.

Mr O’Sullivan said Premier Daniel Andrews and Ms Pulford’s glaring failure to make sure the right guidelines and protocols were in place was threatening prime agricultural land and farmers’ livelihoods in the Goulburn Valley.

‘‘Farmers in the Goulburn Valley are being ignored while Labor powers ahead with its plans for solar plants without adequate protections for prime irrigated agricultural land,’’ Mr O’Sullivan said.