Southern Downs ‘unsuitable’ for large scale renewable projects, MP says

James Lister has declared his electorate "unsuitable" for large scale renewable energy projects. Picture: LUCY WALDRON

By Jeremy Cook

Southern Downs MP James Lister has declared significant parts of his electorate “fundamentally unsuitable” for large scale renewable energy projects, suggesting such proposals be located elsewhere in regions with larger properties.

In a letter to Energy Minister Mick de Brenni, Mr Lister said projects such as wind and solar farms “ought to be sited further west on large properties” where only compensated landholders would be impacted.

“Significant parts of my electorate are populated by landholders whose properties are relatively small at between 50 and 1,000 acres in size,” the MP wrote.

“In such areas, renewable energy projects such as wind and solar farms will inevitably result in uncompensated adverse impacts for the majority, whilst a fortunate minority alone are paid for hosting the wind and solar generating infrastructure.”

Mr Lister’s letter was written in response to two recent wind farm proposals in Allora and Greymare which attracted intense public scrutiny from both communities.

Though plans for Allora have since been abandoned, some Greymare landholders are understood to be contemplating offers from two overseas renewable groups to host wind turbines on their land. However, residents mostly voiced their opposition towards the latest Greymare proposal at a public meeting in mid-May.

Speaking in parliament last Tuesday, Mr Lister said communities were not finding out these projects through official channels of communication.

“One of the difficulties is that communities find out through the grapevine, through the bush telegraph, that people are touting these wind turbines,” he told parliament.

“They do not find out from the government.”

In his letter, Mr Lister called on the state government to hold public briefing sessions for communities around Allora and Greymare.

In March, the government confirmed the Southern Downs as being one of five potential renewable energy zones (REZ) in Southern Queensland, and 12 overall, where it hopes to drive investment in wind and solar projects.

Each REZ will be connected to the government’s planned $62 billion “supergrid” which aims to have 80 per cent of the state’s electricity network powered through renewables by 2035.

Frameworks to ensure energy providers work closely with landholders and local governments through the transition were also announced late-last year in the form of “Local Energy Partnerships”.