Panel hears solar applications

May 15, 2018

An independent planning panel is meeting in Shepparton to consider applications for solar farms in the Shepparton region.

A solar panel of a different kind was installed in Shepparton yesterday.

A planning panel hearing kicked off in the city yesterday to decide the fates of four solar farm proposals proving problematic to determine for Greater Shepparton City Council.

The merits and concerns associated with proposals for solar farm developments in Lemnos, Tatura East, Congupna and Tallygaroopna are being heard at an independent planning panel convened by the Victorian Planning Minister during the next fortnight.

On its first day, the panel heard from representatives for Planning Minister Richard Wynne and Greater Shepparton City Council.

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

The applications constitute hundreds of millions of dollars in development costs and the projects are estimated to produce hundreds of megawatts of power.

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

The council’s concern with addressing the applications

revolves around whether the loss of productive agricultural land for a solar farm produces acceptable planning outcomes, given that it has conflicting

policy outcomes attached to

the projects.

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

The panel hearing continues today.

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