Min­is­ter to rule on so­lar pro­ject

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - LEANNE OLIVERI

THE State Gov­ern­ment has stepped in to re­solve a po­ten­tially drawn- out plan­ning dis­pute over a $ 400 mil­lion so­lar farm de­vel­op­ment at Clare.

Deputy Premier Jackie Trad said the Gov­ern­ment would con­sider a min­is­te­rial “call in” of the pro­posed Bur­dekin de­velop-ment, which would cover up to 340ha and be the largest so­lar farm in Aus­tralia.

Bur­dekin Shire Coun­cil ap­proved the de­vel­op­ment in May but it was ap­pealed by Wil­mar Sugar and Lawrence and Pa­tri­cia Brotto on July 2.

Bur­dekin Mayor Bill Lowis said coun­cil had re­quested the in­ter­ven­tion to avoid a long and costly dis­pute in the Plan­ning and En­vi­ron­ment Court.

“It’s a great pro­ject and we don’t want to lose it,” he said.

Ms Trad, also Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment and Plan­ning Min­is­ter, said she was us­ing pow­ers un­der the Sus­tain­able Plan­ning Act 2009 to is­sue a pro­posed “call in” no­tice for the so­lar farm de­vel­op­ment.

Rel­e­vant par­ties have un­til Au­gust 19 to have their say on whether the de­vel­op­ment should be called in, which would ef­fec­tively give the State Gov­ern­ment fi­nal ap­proval.

“I will con­sider the de­vel­op­ment ap­pli­ca­tion in re­la­tion to the eco­nomic and en­vi­ron­men­tal in­ter­ests, and on­go­ing sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment of the State,” Ms Trad said.

She will make a de­ci­sion on whether the pro­ject is called in by Septem­ber 10.

Fo­towa­tio Re­new­able Ven­tures ( FRV) Aus­tralia plans to lease pri­vately- owned cane land near the Clare sub­sta­tion, about 35km south­west of Ayr, for the so­lar farm.

Wil­mar Sugar has ob­jected on the grounds it would take high- value agri­cul­tural land out of pro­duc­tion.

Jackie Trad.

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