Early & clear consultation needed for State Significant projects

LISMORE MP Janelle Saffin says that the NSW Government must amend the consultation process, to provide clear procedures and early notice to farmers and landholders potentially affected by projects deemed to be of State Significance.

LISMORE MP Janelle Saffin says that the NSW Government must amend the consultation process, to provide clear procedures and early notice to farmers and landholders potentially affected by projects deemed to be of State Significance.

This follows Ms Saffin’s meetings with local residents impacted by two major renewable energy projects – a lithium-ion battery storage facility at McKees Hill near Lismore and a large solar farm near Tenterfield.

“In both cases, residents first learnt of these proposals after the companies involved negotiated agreements with a neighbouring property owner to enable their proposed developments,” Ms Saffin said.

“This represents a gap in the planning process. The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) or the relevant portfolio Ministry should inform people at the outset and clearly outline what the consultation process is.

“In these modern times, local communities expect and need to be informed of any State Significant Development (SSD) and this early consultation needs to be driven by the State Government or a State department, not as a box-ticking exercise by the corporate sector.”

Ms Saffin and State Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis recently had an audio visual meeting with DPIE representatives and an adviser to NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes to get more clarity on the McKees Hill battery storage (SSD) proposal, still in its early stages.

The solar farm in Tenterfield has already been approved.

Ms Saffin said it was an informative and useful meeting which confirmed to her that there was a gap in how State Significant Development was handled on the ground.

“If we were dealing with a local DA process, it would be with the local council and they would make it known and follow a detailed regulatory process,” Ms Saffin said.

“The current lack of up-front consultation creates unease and confusion among locals, and is a clear breach of any Government’s role to communicate to local communities.

“The local community needs to be approached, informed and consulted.

“I will continue to work with landholders, farmers and all in the community to have a better and clearer process that treats farmers and landholders respectfully.”

Friday, 26 March 2021.

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