The fate of a $32 million solar-farm proposal in Bomen will be decided at a Southern Regional Planning Panel meeting in Wagga on September 11.
The project, which has a capital investment value of $29.3m, is proposed to be a 30-megawatt solar farm that will generate about 67,500MW hours of electricity each year.
Based on average household usage, this would service about 11,600 homes.
Terrain Solar, the applicant of the project, said they would comment in detail after the meeting.
“We are being respectful of the process as we head towards the meeting and will be happy to discuss outcomes after,” Terrain Solar’s co-founder Simon Ingram said.
The site is located at the southwestern corner of the junction of Windmill Road and East Bomen Road and extends to an area of 269ha.
The development application for the project was submitted to the council in November 2017.
During the DA’s initial public exhibition, 26 submissions objecting to the project were lodged by residents in neighbouring properties.
Bill Schulz, president of Eunony Valley Association, said they “vehemently oppose this DA”.
“This is not a solar farm, it’s an industrial power station,” Mr Schulz said.
“There is no mistake – we will argue that the term is not applicable to the site.
“We’re not opposed to renewable energy, we’re opposed to the location because it’ll cause visual damage and is environmental vandalism.”
Mr Schulz said that there had been a lack of community consultation.
“It’s strongly recommended as due process – it’s clearly noted and repeated in the planning panel’s guidelines for large-scale solar projects,” he said.
We’re not opposed to renewable energy, we’re opposed to the location because it’ll cause visual damage and is environmental vandalism.Bill Schulz, president of Eunony Valley Association
On June 7 this year, the planning panel visited the site in which a number of questions were raised and issues presented to the applicant for action.
In a public record of the meeting, issues raised include lack of plan details, visual impacts and site restoration.
In its assessment report on August 28 this year, Wagga City Council recommended the project be approved subject to general terms and agreements.
Among the issues considered, the report states the need to balance between sustainable energy and agricultural land uses.
“This issue [traditional agricultural land uses and landscapes within rural areas] will continue to emerge as it is balanced against factors associated with the growing importance of renewable energy targets,” it reads.
Rod Kendall, Wagga City councillor and representative on the southern planning panel, said the critical factor was to “keep an open mind”.
“It’s an opportunity for the proponents and opponents to make submissions to the panel,” Cr Kendall said.
“Part of the process is to have inter-panel discussions about the pros and cons before we take a position.”
Part of the process is to have inter-panel discussions about the pros and cons before we take a position.Rod Kendall, Wagga City Councillor and representative on southern planning panel
He said that the proposal being one of many solar-farm projects showed “a confidence in Wagga’s economic future”.
The determination of the project will be based on the council’s assessment and the applicant’s documents, including statement of environmental effects, visual impacts and biodiversity assessment.
Referral of the proposal and objections were made to the Office of Environment and Heritage and the Department of Primary Industries Water.
Separate proponents Renew Estate and Green Switch Australia also have solar projects proposed for the Wagga region.
There are currently $750 million worth of renewable energy projects slated for the region, including farms at Coleambally, Griffith, and Hay.
The planning panel meeting will be open to the public at Wagga City Council from 11am.
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