A battle to stop the development of a major solar project near the Saumarez Homestead property just south of Armidale was won this week when Invergowrie landowners and residents were notified that French company Neoen had canned the development.
In September 2018, about 250 concerned residents met in the Invergowrie Fire Shed, on a cold and windy night, to attend an information night about the proposed 1800 hectare, 1.5 million solar panel project.
Don Hardman led the charge against project with the Saumarez Solar Farm Action Group.
"We got notification from the department of planning and environment a couple of days ago, that the proposal by Neoen to build the solar farm out there has been withdrawn," he said.
"I think it is really amazing what people can do when they come together. There was evidence, just at that meeting we had, that people were concerned about the proposal in that location.
"It is a minefield to negotiate for any community that has these sorts of things suddenly dropped on it. You have to start to see your way through all the bureaucratic avenues that you've got to go down to get your head around all the planning and procedures."
He said the group had a really diverse background and that was an advantage.
Don attended the Armidale Solar Industry Meeting on Wednesday evening where he spoke to a number of other people.
"What I gathered from that meeting was some people are happy with these developments going ahead," he said.
"Depending where these projects were, some will have little if any impact on neighbours or community. Others are going to be impacted as much as we were.
"This is where people coming in and saying, 'Here's cleared land, here's a power line, and we're going to wack an application in ... what would be really useful for the shires would be to get ahead of the game."
Don said councils could identify high value areas in their Local Environmental Plans to better guide companies considering solar developments.
"If the council' s go through that planning process they will be able to identify to the companies where they are going to get resistance," he said.
"Councils getting ahead of the game and showing areas that are "off the books" could save a lot of angst, I think."