Wallaroo residents are voicing concerns as a major solar farm is being proposed for the area. The Wallaroo Solar Farm will certainly not be small, covering 391 hectares with over 200,000 panels and capable of producing enough energy to supply approximately 48,000 NSW and ACT homes.

Local resident Miika Voutilainen is particularly concerned about the visual impact and says the proposed Wallaroo Solar Farm will be devastating to homeowners, particularly if homes in the area experience a drop in value.

“It will be so close, so visible, and ugly. It’s not just me, thousands of people and their homes will be affected.”

Mr Voutilainen measured that the proposed solar farm will be just 900 metres from the nearest home. 

“On the Wallaroo Solar Farm’s surveys, they say it’s going to be a minimal impact, but I disagree,” he said.

Currently, Wallaroo is a beautiful rural area that slopes into a valley. Residents enjoy beautiful countryside views of paddocks, nature, and the hillside, which is a relaxing drive home for those working in the city.

“I love this area, it’s great, but now leaving is starting to cross my mind. Do I want to be looking at this monstrosity every day?” said Mr Voutilainen. 

The Wallaroo solar farm is a joint private enterprise proposed by New Energy Development and Univergy International, a Spanish-Japanese energy developer company.

New Energy Development company spokesman Ben Cranston said Wallaroo Solar Farm is committed to working with the local community to minimise the potential impacts of the project.

“We are compiling an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the project, which will contain a detailed assessment of its potential impacts, and we encourage all members of the community to engage with us further with any questions or concerns.”

Mr Cranston responded to specific concerns over views and amenity.

“Impacts will be mitigated by planting native vegetation on the outskirts of the property and we will actively graze sheep and house apiaries throughout the site once construction is completed to further help the project blend in with the existing rural landscape,” he said.

Drones are also expected to be a part of the proposal’s operation to assess solar panels. Drones present their own concerns for residents, primarily noise and privacy.

“Drones may be used on site once construction is completed to check the electrical equipment for any potential defects. The drones will only be taking imagery inside the project footprint during business hours on business days. This will occur 2-3 times per month,” stated Mr Cranston.

Local resident Mr Voutilainen explains he has nothing against solar energy, just not in his backyard. He would support the proposed solar farm if it were not next to a residential area. The Voutilainen’s will be able to see the solar farm from their kitchen window. 

Wallaroo solar farm- proposed area -map

A further concern is the solar farm’s large unit of lithium batteries, which are potentially volatile. Although it is understood these would be built and maintained with strict safety precautions, if an accident occurred, danger could arise. 

“Due to the specifications and capacity of the Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) the project is in the process of compiling a preliminary Hazard Assessment in accordance with the Department of Planning and Environment guidelines. This is standard for most renewable developments with a BESS and confirms adequacy of design and management controls including spacing and distance to neighbouring residents,” Mr Cranston responded.

Mr Voutilainen has raised his concerns with New Energy Development representative Ben Cranston, who visited the area to speak with him. Additionally, the Wallaroo solar farm has a survey available on their website, which he encourages those affected by the solar farm to fill out. 

Mr Voutilainen also encourages residents to write to MLAs, asking that they step up and make some noise. Already, Member for Ginninderra Elizabeth Kikkert will be speaking to Wallaroo solar farm representatives soon. Because the solar farm development is a state-significant project, the approving authority is the State government rather than Yass Valley Council. However, councils can make submissions on the project on behalf of their communities. 

“Wallaroo solar farm is about to ravage this landscape that so many residents love. Please help us put an end to this,” Mr Voutilainen urged.

Southerly Jones