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Herbert Smith Freehills has advised Maryrorough Solar – owners of the Brigalow Solar Farm near Pittsworth in southern Queensland – in regards to its successful challenge of the validity of section 73A of the Electrical Safety Regulation 2013 (Qld) (introduced by the Electrical Safety (Solar Farms) Amendment Regulation 2019 (Qld)). 

Justices Fraser, McMurdo and Boddice in the Queensland Court of Appeal yesterday upheld a Supreme Court ruling striking out the regulation for solar farms.

The Electrical Safety (Solar Farms) Amendment Regulation 2019 (Qld), which came into force on 13 May, had been ruled invalid in a decision byJustice Bradley of the Supreme Court of Queensland on 29 May, following a challenge by Maryrorough Solar. 

Under the legislation, which came into force on 13 May, licensed electrical workers were required to locate, mount, fix and remove unplugged solar panels at solar projects above 100 kilowatts, adding significant red tape for no clear benefit.

The Herbert Smith Freehills team was led by partner Aaron Anderson, supported by senior associate Nicole Jones and solicitor Madeleine Day. 

Mr Anderson said: “We are very pleased that the Court has upheld Justice Bradley’s decision.  This regulation would have added substantially to the construction cost of solar projects in Queensland without improving the safety of workers.”

The decision has been welcomed by the renewable energy industry. Lane Crockett, head of renewables for Impact Investment Group, the financial backers of Maryrorough Solar, said, “It's certainly a relief; this gives us the certainty we need to move forward, hiring the workers we need to keep building this solar farm.When it's finished the Brigalow Solar Farm will provide enough clean power for more than 11,000 homes.

“I think the solar industry is still ready to work with the state government to give them the confidence that this industry will be good for all Queenslanders as it's good for the planet.”

This matter highlights Herbert Smith Freehills’ position as the market’s leading advisor on all aspects of renewable energy, including project development, power purchase and offtake agreements, project finance, M&A and litigation.