Solar Farm agrees to $5.9 million community benefit contribution

06th Sep 2022

The 225 MW proposed Oxley Solar Farm east of Armidale has agreed to pay $5.9 million as a community benefit contribution.
Councillors unanimously endorsed the agreement at the Armidale Regional Council meeting on August 24th.
Mayor Sam Coupland said he expected that this would be the first of many such deals over the coming years as part of the NSW Governments New England Renewable Energy Zone (REZ).
Historically wind and solar farms have contributed little in employment (outside construction phases) and almost nothing in community benefit contributions, however, Council is now very clear that developers can expect little support if they are not engaging meaningfully with locals, minimising the impact of their project and making appropriate financial contributions to the community.
Oxley Solar Farm met one of those expectations by agreeing to make a community benefit contribution of $5.9 million over the next 20 years with approx. $2.79m due on commencement of construction and the remaining amount payable over 20 years. They have also significantly scaled down the original footprint of the solar farm in response to local submissions and in an attempt to minimise their impact.
Oxley Solar Farm still needs to address a number of issues raised in public submissions in order to obtain the necessary State Government approvals and Mayor Coupland pointed out that the community benefit deal doesn’t guarantee the Oxley Solar Farm will receive State Government planning approval.