State to appeal solar farm ruling
Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace said the government would, at the same time, apply for a stay of the decision pending the outcome of the appeal so that while the technical legal matters are resolved, the safety measures that form the regulations are maintained.
She said the regulations were developed following advice from Crown Law and drafted by the Office of Queensland Parliamentary Counsel, which was the general process for the introduction of all regulations.
“We introduced these regulations following advice from an expert panel, including the Electrical Safety Commissioner, to ensure Queensland has the highest-possible electrical safety standards for its rapidly-growing solar electricity generation industry,” she said.
The Clean Energy Council described the Supreme Court ruling as “a victory for common sense”.
It came when Maryborough Solar – owners of the Brigalow Solar Farm in southern Queensland – challenged the Electrical Safety (Solar Farms) Amendment Regulation 2019 (Qld), which requires the use of licensed electrical workers to mount and fix unplugged solar panels in plants over 100KW.
And Master Electricians Australia (MEA) slammed the move by the Queensland Government to appeal the decision.
MEA chief executive officer Malcolm Richards said that an appeal was a waste of taxpayer money and that the best solution was for industry and government to sit down and resolve the issue.
But Electrical Safety Commissioner Greg Skyring welcomed the government’s decision to appeal the Supreme Court ruling.
“The Supreme Court decision deals with technical legal issues in relation to the new regulations,” he said.
“However, I remain concerned about the safety risks workers installing solar panels at these large-scale solar electricity generating farms face, such as electrical shock and fire. Contrary to some of the commentary I’ve seen in the media, these risks are very real and very serious and they need to be addressed.”