Two meetings were held by the NSW Independent Planning Commission in Uralla on Tuesday, regarding the UPC New England Solar Farm project, currently before the commission for determination.
Commissioners Andrew Hutton and Professors Snow Barlow and Zada Lipman invited senior council staff and elected representatives to a meeting at 2pm to listen to their views on the application, and also scheduled a public meeting for 4.30pm at the Uralla RSL Memorial Hall to hear the views of the public.
Uralla Shire Council Mayor Michael Pearce said five staff members and five councillors attended the council meeting with the commission.
"The independent planning commission panel asked staff members asked some questions in regard to council's submission that was submitted in March last year," Cr Pearce said.
"A couple of questions revolved around road management, infrastructure and local employment opportunities."
Six people spoke at the 60 strong public hall meeting.
A commission status report revealed the exhibition of the Environmental Impact Statement for the project drew 116 submissions, comprised of 67 objections, 20 supporting and 14 other comments from the general public,13 from government agencies, two from special interest groups.
The department, it says, has also consulted with Uralla Shire Council and relevant government agencies on key issues, and inspected the site. It met with surrounding landowners on June 26 last year.
"Council supports the project and none of the agencies object to the project, subject to the implementation of appropriate mitigation and management measures," the report reads.
It also mentions the roads. Uralla council asked for the last section of Big Ridge Road to be upgraded to Austroads Standards for a public road.
"The department believes this is unnecessary as this section of road is currently an unformed track and paper road that is unlikely to ever play a meaningful role in the local road network," the report reads.
"Further, this section of Big Ridge Road would essentially serve as a haul road for the project that is only used by host landowners and project traffic. Consequently, the Department considers UPC's proposal to upgrade the road to an unsealed road with a width of 8.7 metres and maintain it for the life of the project is reasonable."
The report also considers the project would not significantly reduce the overall agricultural productivity of the region, and is satisfied the site could be returned to agricultural uses following rehabilitation.
Anyone wishing to have a say on the proposed solar farm can make a written submission here up until 5pm on Tuesday, February 18.