A Queensland Court of Appeal decision to uphold a Supreme Court ruling striking out a state government regulation for solar farms is good news for regional jobs and communities in the state, the Clean Energy Council said.

Under the legislation, licensed electrical workers were required to locate, mount, fix and remove unplugged solar panels at solar projects above 100kW, adding significant costs and red tape for no clear benefit. This is work that has been performed successfully on dozens of projects by skilled labourers and trades assistants.

The Electrical Safety (Solar Farms) Amendment Regulation 2019 (Qld), which came into force on May 13, had been ruled invalid by the Supreme Court of Queensland on May 29, following a challenge by Maryrorough Solar – owners of the Brigalow Solar Farm near Pittsworth in southern Queensland. 

Clean Energy Council CEO 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,” 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.  

“The solar industry recognises that safety is paramount. We look forward to working collaboratively with the government and all relevant stakeholders to achieve our shared aims of safely delivering its 50% renewable energy target by 2030,” he said.