Farmers say plans for multi-million solar plant will make them “uninsurable”

Proximity to plant will increase fire risk

Farmers say plans for multi-million solar plant will make them “uninsurable”

Insurance News

By Mika Pangilinan

Farmers near the site of a planned solar plant in northeast Victoria have expressed concerns that this could make their properties uninsurable due to the high fire risk associated with such an infrastructure.

John Conroy, a local cattle farmer and spokesperson of the Meadow Creek Agricultural Community Action Group, said the added fire risk could significantly increase the amount that the family-run farms in the area must pay for public liability insurance.

“If we started an accidental fire – which can start from hay combustion, chainsaws, slashers, pumps, so many factors – then we are liable for replacement, clean-up and loss of income for the solar factory,” Conroy said in a statement to The Australian.  “We’re potentially talking hundreds of millions of dollars.”

According to Conroy, coverage for $50 million would cost a farm about $30,000 annually, while coverage for $100 million could exceed $50,000.

“It basically means we’re uninsurable,” he added.

“Massive” towers pose huge fire risk to neighbouring farms

The proposed $750 million, 330-megawatt solar plant is expected to span 570 hectares in the King River catchment, which is known for its fire-prone conditions.

In an interview with SkyNews host Peta Credlin, Daniel Wild of the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) said the farmers were right to be worried about how the solar plant will impact their business.

“These are the kinds of realities and practicalities of running a farm that the inner city ideologues just do not understand,” said Wild, who serves as deputy executive director at the conservative think tank.

Wild recounted a conversation he had with a Country Fire Authority (CFA) official in the Western District of Victoria who was specifically concerned about the transmission lines of the “massive” towers that will be part of the plant.

“What he put to us was that firefighters would not be able to go in and fight a fire were it taking place in or around these massive transmission towers,” said Wild. “So this is a huge fire risk in a part of the country that is bushfire prone.”

Meanwhile a representative from the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) said the council had been engaging with government bodies, transmission network providers, and farming associations regarding the accessibility of public liability insurance for rural properties near renewable energy projects.

“Landowners with concerns are encouraged to contact their insurance broker or insurer directly,” the representative told The Australian.

What are your thoughts on this story? Feel free to comment below.

Related Stories

Keep up with the latest news and events

Join our mailing list, it’s free!