OUR communities are being "treated like commodities" by renewable energy companies, according to Walcha Mayor Eric Noakes.
He has had enough. In September, Cr Noakes will form a troika of New England mayors at a forum about the district becoming a renewable energy zone.
Armidale Mayor Sam Coupland, Uralla Mayor Robert Bell and Cr Noakes will address the forum and take questions from the floor.
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The forum has been organised by the New England Visions 2030 Institute. It will be held at the Armidale Bowling Club on Wednesday, September 6 from 5.30pm to 7pm.
The mayors are largely supportive of New England being designated a renewable energy zone.
But they see challenges ahead and want to ensure benefits from the zoning are shared by all.
"I'll be talking about the predatory way in which some of these companies are pressing us and how our communities are being treated like commodities," Cr Noakes said.
"Our experience is they try to avoid engagement, so much of the development of solar farms and wind turbines is done without the community really knowing.
"There was no transparency in the early days of these projects and now a lack of collaboration between government departments."
Earlier in August, the three mayors appeared before an Upper House inquiry, urging the NSW Government to put transmission lines from wind and solar farms underground, alleviating some of the visual and environmental impacts of the development.
Cr Bell said issues such as transport, housing and waste issues needed to be addressed.
"We're still struggling with the waste from end-of-life of the turbines," Cr Bell said.
"Environmental impact statements haven't really addressed that matter.
"Also, with the influx of workers on the New England Solar Farm, we saw rents in Uralla rise by about 30 per cent, so suddenly there's no affordable accommodation."
Cr Noakes is concerned local roads aren't fit to take the 110-metre long trucks, some carrying more than 90 tonnes, carrying wind turbines from Newcastle.
"Our current landscape of trees and cows and sheep will be turned into one featuring 270m wind turbines and paddocks of solar panels covering the land," Cr Noakes said.
"We're not putting a red line through all the developments, but we need the whole community to benefit."
Cr Coupland said his main aim at next month's forum was to take questions from the floor.
"I'd be interested to hear what the concerns are from the people in the room," Cr Coupland said.
"We can't stop this march for renewable energy, so what we have to do is shape it.
"The role of council is about minimising the downside and capturing the upside."
He said the renewable energy zone would mean "massive change to our region" in coming years.
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