The approval of a multi-million dollar solar farm in Wagga’s northeast has marked another sustainability milestone but councillors are wary of sacrificing too much prime rural land to renewable ventures.
An application from Global Solar Farms valued at $2.5 million was given the green light in September and will occupy a Jersey Street lot in Bomen near Southern Cross Energy’s $18 million solar farm development.
Global Solar Farm’s application is not the first to come before council and mayor Greg Conkey is expecting more to come.
“We’ve been inundated with enquiries from various organisations,” he said.
“We’ve just approved this smaller one and people are really starting to see the benefits of solar.”
Cr Conkey said he had been “agitating” renewable energy for quite some time but said he was conscious of preserving the wealth of industrial and rural land around Wagga.
“Renewable energy is the future but we also need to protect other industries,” he said.
“You can’t just put these solar farms on prime rural or industrial land so we need to bear that balance in mind.”
Former mayor and current councillor Rod Kendall also lent his support to the development but issued similar cautions over renewable energy.
“There’s certainly an attraction for alternate powers source close by but approval and construction are two very different things,” he said.
“Solar power has plenty of support and whilst it’s not the be-all and end-all of energy, it’s encouraging to see it developing.”
Cr Kendall pointed to the Riverina’s growing number of solar farms as evidence the industry was swelling.
The Global Solar Farms development will house 7000 panels in 35 blocks of 20 metres by 20 metres at a 2.5 megawatt capacity, however larger applications must be approved by the Southern Joint Regional Planning Panel.
Global Solar Farms was contacted for comment however The Daily Advertiser understands the construction stage for the development will be approximately 12 weeks and the estimated lifespan for the facility is 25 years.
In the council’s development application report, assessment officer Amanda Gray said it was likely the farm would be decommissioned after 25 years and the land rehabilitated for industrial purposes.