I was struck with a feeling of deja vu this week when a press release from Wagga MP Joe McGirr landed in The DA's inbox.
The release announced that concerned Riverina landowners had formed a group to "safeguard valuable farmland and food security".
It went on to mention the need to protect Australia's limited "prime agricultural land" from erosion, acidity, salinity and other threats.
Immediately I was transported back to 2013 when, as a reporter based in Tamworth, I spent two years covering a ferocious fight between agriculture and the coal and coal seam gas industries.
This battle was fascinating to report on as farmers and environmentalists sought to protect the rich soils of the Liverpool Plains from the effects of extractive industries.
It was a highly emotive issue that divided not just communities and councils and governments, but even families as debate raged over whether agriculture and mining could co-exist.
Scarcely a week went by without a protester - be they a local or a greenie from out of town - locking themselves onto mining equipment in a bid to disrupt mining's march.
There were billions of dollars at stake, allegations of skullduggery from both sides and years-long legal battles played out in the courts.
Ultimately, the farmers, environmentalists and their supporters were successful in stopping one massive open-cut coal mine from proceeding, with the NSW government paying something in the order of $100 million to a Chinese-based company to walk away from its plans.
But, almost a decade later, the controversial coal seam gas project is still progressing, albeit at glacier-like speed.
Of course, Dr McGirr's release was not about a coal mine or coal seam gas project, but rather the encroachment of solar farms.
As The DA has often reported in recent years, the Riverina has become a honey pot for solar farm projects - some large, some small - as energy companies look to capitalise on the region's flat terrain and abundant sunshine.
With this expansion comes concerns from a growing number of residents about the impact on productive farmland, the environment and the amenity of people living nearby.
Residents need to have confidence that these solar farm projects, including those proposed for North Wagga, Mates Gully, Maxwell and Uranquinty, are subject to rigorous approval processes.
As Dr McGirr said in his release announcing the formation of the Riverina Sustainable Food Alliance: "We know we need renewable energy, but we also need to eat.
"Why put them on prime agricultural land and why put them so close to regional cities? It makes no sense."
This is an issue The DA looks forward to exploring more in the coming weeks and months.
All the best for the week ahead,
Ross Tyson, editor
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