So­lar farm re­port with min­is­ter

Shepparton News - Country News - - NEWS -

The fates of four large-scale so­lar farm ap­pli­ca­tions in the City of Greater Shep­par­ton will be­come clearer next month.

An in­de­pen­dent plan­ning panel’s re­port into four so­lar farm projects in the Goul­burn Val­ley has been handed to Vic­to­rian Plan­ning Min­is­ter Richard Wynne.

A Vic­to­rian Gov­ern­ment spokesper­son said the plan­ning panel had con­sid­ered the four Greater Shep­par­ton ap­pli­ca­tions, and the panel’s find­ings would help in­form new guide­lines.

‘‘We’re de­vel­op­ing clear guide­lines for the as­sess­ment of so­lar farm ap­pli­ca­tions in Vic­to­ria — to give lo­cals cer­tainty and sup­port jobs,’’ the spokesper­son said.

The min­is­ter is con­sid­er­ing the rec­om­men­da­tions, with the re­port set to be re­leased in Septem­ber.

The gov­ern­ment will con­sider the find­ings of the panel, as well as ac­tions in other states, to de­velop so­lar farm guide­lines that work for Vic­to­ria.

A plan­ning panel hear­ing into four so­lar pro­pos­als for Greater Shep­par­ton wrapped up in May.

Across five sit­ting days, it heard from land­hold­ers, ob­jec­tors, wa­ter author­i­ties, plan­ning ex­perts, Greater Shep­par­ton City Coun­cil and the so­lar de­vel­op­ers.

The panel had pre­vi­ously been urged, by sev­eral peo­ple mak­ing sub­mis­sions, of the need to de­velop a clear set of guide­lines for so­lar farm pro­pos­als.

The pro­ceed­ings fol­low Mr Wynne’s of­fice call­ing in the four pro­pos­als af­ter coun­cil had re­quested their out­come be de­ter­mined by the min­is­ter’s of­fice; an out­come the coun­cil had wel­comed as ‘‘sen­si­ble’’.

The panel is also set to pro­vide ad­vice to the en­ergy min­is­ter about how fu­ture so­lar farm ap­pli­ca­tions will be as­sessed in Vic­to­ria.

The ap­pli­ca­tions for so­lar farm pro­pos­als in Lem­nos, Tatura East, Congupna and Tal­ly­ga­roopna con­sti­tute hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars in de­vel­op­ment costs with the projects es­ti­mated to pro­duce hun­dreds of megawatts of power.

But there are con­cerns about the best use of prime agri­cul­tural land and fears largescale so­lar farms could have an im­pact on nearby farm­ing prac­tices.

Fol­low­ing rec­om­men­da­tions be­ing handed down by the panel, the min­is­ter can ap­prove, re­ject or green-light the per­mits, with con­di­tions at­tached.

Coun­cil­lors had said the pro­pos­als were prob­lem­atic for the coun­cil to de­ter­mine.

Chief among the coun­cil’s con­cern with de­ter­min­ing the ap­pli­ca­tions was whether the loss of pro­duc­tive agri­cul­tural land for a so­lar farm pro­duces ac­cept­able plan­ning out­comes.

Baaaa-d news . . . Butch­ers and abat­toirs are strug­gling with the high prices they are be­ing forced to pay for lambs in the re­gion’s sa­le­yards.

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