Could solar farms, wind farms and more power lines make it more difficult to fight bush and grass fires?
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That's a question the NSW government will have to explore in their response to submissions made about the Central-West Orana Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) Transmission Environment Impact Statement, energy minister Penny Sharpe said.
"I know these issues have been raised and they're absolutely legitimate, people need to know how you're going to defend these kinds of assets and what impact they'll have on their neighbours," Ms Sharpe said.
"All of that work is being done through the Environment Impact Statement process and we'll need to address it through the EIS process... It's the same as other projects.
"People are right to ask the questions and we just need to make sure that we have the answers."
During a visit to Dubbo on Friday, October 20, the minister was asked about community concerns that proposed renewable energy generation and transmission infrastructure could create a heightened risk of bushfires or make it harder to fight fires.
"I think we're facing a heightened risk of bushfires because of climate change and we're seeing danger in terms of the drying climate," Ms Sharpe said, responding to the question.
"And heading into El Nino ... all of us need to deal with it. It doesn't matter whether it's a wind farm, a normal farm, a national park, a state forest or grasslands at the edge of town.
"We need to deal with it and we need to be prepared and everyone, governments throwing everything at that."
On Thursday, September 28, the NSW government lodged their environmental impact statement for a project which will connect the Central West Orana REZ to the state's energy grid.
But some landholders have expressed concern about the project, calling the consultation process a "farce".
Asked about the community's concerns around consultation, Ms Sharpe said she is "absolutely committed" to working with the community.
"These projects are very important and they've been approved and we need to work through how we can make the best of how they're going forward," she said.
"I think that there's a lot of misinformation about the impact of those and I think there is a job to do when it comes to communicating exactly what's going to be there.
"There's a lot of people running around, but the number of projects is actually smaller than people think and I think we need to communicate that better and working through the planning system will do that."
The Central West Orana REZ is a key part of the state government's goal to reach 12 gigawatts of renewable energy generation and two gigawatts of long-duration storage by 2030.
"Be under no illusion, we have to build these renewable energy projects but we have to do them in the best possible way," Ms Sharpe said.
"We're managing the retirement of coal fired power in a state that has 70 per cent coal-fired power. We have to keep the lights on. We have to keep prices down.
"And the best way to do this is through the Renewable Energy Zones."
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