WATCH: Opinions, emotions flare at meeting about solar farm
OPINIONS, emotions and statements of disbelief flared up at a public meeting to discuss a proposed $100 million solar farm that would bring 100 jobs to the district.
The Warwick Town Hall was packed with concerned residents, despite the council's decision not to advertise the meeting.
The community voiced strong oppositions to the impact of development on prime agricultural land on the corner of f Jensen and Gleeson Rd in the Freestone valley.
Southern Down's Regional Council acting by development assessment coordinator Wayne Jarrett said the site was in crucial proximity to a substation.
"The further you are away from that catchment station the less power you have got," Mr Jarrett said.
But residents feared the land would be left degraded and unusable after the 20-year lifespan of the 154-hectare solar project.
"What guarantee have we got that they will return the land to what it is now," a man asked.
Sladevale resident Mark Pierce said Terrain Solar's report on the site's decommissioning was insufficient.
"It's about two paragraphs where they talk about how they are going to decommission this whole facility. There's a lot of holes in there where we're saying there just isn't enough information."
Mr Jarrett said council could ensure proper decommissioning of the facility by imposing conditions that must be upheld even if the solar farm was on-sold to another company.
Others were concerned about the impact on property values and scenic qualities of the area.
But if council gives the solar farm the go-ahead - a decision that could be made as early as May 23 - there would be no course for appeal under the rules of the new planning scheme.
"If council approves this what can we do," a woman asked.
"Is there an appeal process? Basically we have no recourse if the process has been made correctly."
Mayor Tracy Dobie said the meeting was called to hear the concerns of the residents and predicted a decision would not go to a vote this month.
"It has become clear that we need to put some more questions to bed," the mayor said.
"This is will not be an easy decision for councillors."