More solar: $200m project approved

GANNAWARRA Shire Council has approved a planning application for a $200 million solar power facility at Macorna North.

Council has given notice of its intention to grant a permit for establishment of the renewable energy facility and associated vegetation removal on land adjacent to the Kerang-Leitchville Road.

The latest permit approval further enhances Gannawarra's status as the solar centre of Victoria following the recent commissioning of Victoria's largest grid-connected power plant - now being expanded into the second of three stages - and a number of other projects in the planning phase.

KIG Energy's project is expected to create 125 construction jobs and would ultimately produce enough electricity to power 8500 homes and is one of 12 projects planned by the company across Australia.

Shire planning and regulatory services manager, Kellie Burmeister told council on Wednesday night that the application by KIG Energy Pty Ltd had been advertised to surrounding property owners and occupiers and one objection was received.

"The proposal is considered to be appropriate for the site and consistent with the provisions of the Gannawarra Planning Scheme," she said.

The proposal involves construction of a 100 megawatt solar farm on 255 hectares of land adjacent to Kerang-Leitchville Road and east from Reaper Road. It would comprise two large solar array areas on two adjoining parcels of land, accessible from Reaper Lane.

Council was told that each of the two solar arrays will have 222,700 photovoltaic panels and construction would be completed in two stages over 12 months.

The objector raised concerns including shared road use and conditions, the lack of detailed vegetation plans, weed control and fire hazard control and rubbish, noise, dust and light pollution.

Council approved the planning application and gave notice of its intention to issue a permit with a number of conditions, including amended plans being submitted, landscaping plans and planting schedule, an Environmental Management Plan, Country Fire Authority access, vegetation management and placement of fire water tanks.

A clause in the Local Planning Policy Framework is "to increase energy supplies from renewable sources, particularly from solar generation of electricity, and reduce dependence on fossil fuels".

One of the strategies is to "promote and encourage the establishment of a solar electricity generation industry in the municipality, including electricity generation on 'solar farms', the manufacture of components and research into solar applications".

The decision to approve the planning application and issue a Notice of Decision to issue a planning permit subject to appropriate conditions means that the objector has the opportunity to appeal against council's decision at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal. The applicant can appeal against conditions.

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