UNDERGROUNDING transmission lines from wind and solar farms would go a long way to healing rifts the projects have caused among New England neighbours, an Upper House inquiry has heard.
Armidale Regional Mayor Sam Coupland, chairman of the Coalition of Regional Energy Mayors, said the region's councils had been largely locked out of any decision making over the renewable energy zone.
Furthermore, the roll-out has left many landowners in the dark, leaving some neighbours to second guess what and how the power from the wind turbines and solar panels will be transported across their property.
"Council is 'agnostic' on the renewable energy zone, however, we need to be consulted about its roll-out and the environmental impact," Cr Coupland told the visiting MLCs at the inquiry on Thursday.
Since New England became a renewable energy zone in 2018, solar and wind farms have proliferated across the region, with the associated infrastructure deemed of state significance.
That meant councils had little control over the developments.
Cr Coupland said many properties hosting a wind farm would receive about $30,000 a year per tower. But their neighbours, inconvenienced by the ugly view and associated light and noise, received no compensation.
"Undergrounding the transmission lines would go a long way to off-setting the angst neighbours feel," he said.
Cr Coupland also called for energy hubs, or sub-stations, to be located on the host property.
He was one of a delegation of mayors to talk at the inquiry including Uralla Shire Mayor Robert Bell, Walcha Mayor Eric Noakes, as well as Armidale Cr Jon Galletly and Kate Jessep, Uralla Shire Council General Manager.
Ms Jessep told the inquiry, held at Armidale City Bowling Club, councillors were working "hard to get real money to our community and bearing the burden of this renewable energy zone".
"At the moment we have no surety for our own energy supply or cost. There's no money been promised and we don't have the technical expertise to analyse the effects or respond in a meaningful way to this seismic change.
"It's an enormous series of projects that will transform our landscape, and we can't quantify this because we don't have the capacity."
The delegation sought better consultation from the state government over the renewable energy zone, which is why they formed the Coalition of Renewable Energy Mayors last year.
The coalition consists of Armidale, Uralla, Walcha, Glen Innes and Inverell, with other councils coming on board.
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