Court rejects Qld Govt solar laws appeal

Brigalow solar farm

A Queensland Court of Appeal has upheld the Supreme Court ruling that the Queensland Government’s Electrical Safety (Solar Farms) Amendment Regulation 2019 introduced on May 13 is invalid.

The legislation required all work on solar farms including mounting panels to be conduced by licensed electricians.

The developers of Brigalow Solar Farm near Pittsworth in Queensland filed a case against the government’s legislation in the Supreme Court.

The Clean Energy Council welcomed the announcement, saying it was good news for regional jobs and communities in the state.

Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Kane Thornton said the development and introduction of the state government’s regulation had been rushed.

“The industry should never have had to go through the courts to resolve something that could easily have been worked out with a full and proper consultation process,” Mr Thornton said.

“Queensland’s courts have now determined twice that the government’s regulation requiring licensed electricians to do the work of labourers and trades assistants is inconsistent with the Electrical Safety Act. That is because it is not electrical work. This decision is good news for regional jobs and communities, and good news for the clean energy transition in Queensland. 

“After three months of chaos and uncertainty in the large-scale solar sector in Queensland, we look forward to being able to get on with the job of building and investing in new clean energy projects worth billions of dollars that the state needs to meet its renewable energy target.”

While the Queensland Government has accepted the ruling, it has asked the Electrical Safety Commissioner to convene an urgent industry roundtable to discuss safety in large-scale solar farms.

“Today’s decision is about a technical legal ruling and does not deal with the substantive safety reasoning behind the making of the solar farms regulation,” Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace said.

“The Government acted on the advice of an expert safety panel and Crown Law in relation to the making of the regulation.

“My department is currently considering the full extent of the decision, including whether legislative changes are required.

“The Electrical Safety Act has not undergone any significant changes in 17 years. A great deal of technological change and the emergence of new industries have occurred since this time.”