Agriculture | February 12, 2024

Farmers must be protected from insurance cost rises

The Nationals have called on the Allan Labor Government to fix a policy black hole regarding potential skyrocketing insurance premiums for farmers near large-scale solar and renewable energy projects.

The Nationals Member for Lowan and Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Emma Kealy said farmers neighbouring large renewable projects were potentially facing huge increases in insurance premiums and at risk of losing everything.

"Farmers from across Victoria have been contacting their local members expressing concerns about local renewable energy projects, particularly in relation to insurance and liability challenges,” Ms Kealy said.

“It is essential that farmers are supported as renewable energy projects continue to be developed around the state.

“If a farmer was found to have started a fire with a chainsaw, slasher or grinder and it spread and caused damage to a neighbouring property, they could lose everything if they were found negligent.

“With current farm insurance usually somewhere between $10 million and $20 million, some farmers have been told they may need to look overseas to find higher levels of insurance.

“When you consider some proposed renewable energy projects have a value of up to $750 million, farmer’s existing cover is clearly not enough, and some have been told they may be facing a $50,000 rise in premiums each year.”

The Australian Energy Infrastructure Commissioner’s 2022 Annual Report includes sections titled ‘consultation’ and ‘neighbour agreements’. It suggests a solar farm could create a neighbour agreement, which could include reimbursement for increased public liability insurance premiums levied at a neighbour due to the presence of a wind or solar farm.

“Insurance issues are causing a lot of angst across Victoria as plans for renewable energy projects are made public and coming to fruition,” Ms Kealy said.

“The Allan Labor Government cannot remain silent on this issue.

“It’s a policy black hole and a State Government responsibility.

“The government needs to address these insurance issues as a matter of urgency to ensure our farmers are not financially disadvantaged because a neighbouring property is identified as the location of a new renewable energy project.”

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