Greater Shepparton City Council wants to hand over its planning controls on new solar farms to the Victorian Government.
The council is facing five separate applications to build electric power generators using solar panels with a total value of more than $300million and power capacity of 200MW.
The council will refer the applications to Victoria’s planning minister to establish a process that provides a fair opportunity for affected stakeholders to be heard.
Solar farm proposals
The five solar farm proposals are located at Tatura East, Tallygaroopna, Lemnos, Congupna and Mooroopna.
The council’s main concern with the applications is ‘‘whether the loss of productive agricultural land ... for a solar farm produces acceptable planning outcomes’’.
Officers would need to consider conflicting policies and decide on net benefit, considered a difficult task.
‘‘Officers consider that the most efficient method of determining these solar farm applications ... is to request (the minister) become the decision maker,’’ the report continues.
If agreed, it would ensure decisions were determined faster.
The council has also been told of a sixth solar farm application, totalling 100MW and worth $150million, expected in about six months.
In moving the motion to refer the proposals on to the minister, Cr Dinny Adem stressed the ‘‘1000 per cent’’ support for solar farms from the council and cited the potential for applicants to get tied up in processes.
Cr Chris Hazelman agreed it was appropriate to refer the items on for government assistance in helping determine such applications.
‘‘This is really the tip of the iceberg,’’ Cr Bruce Giovanetti said, referring to renewable energy targets, predicting ‘‘huge development in this area’’.
One of the new applications near Shepparton is by the same company, Neoen, which is developing a $175million 500ha solar farm south of Numurkah.
with Clancy Gardiner