15 Dec 2017 Wangaratta Chronicle, Wangaratta VIC (General News) by Steve Kelly but objectors might appeal to the Supreme Court A SOLAR farm at North Wangaratta has been approved by the Governor in Council but objectors are considering taking the matter to the Supreme Court. A solar farm on land near Bowser Road will generate 20 megawatts of power and was given a green light yesterday with the high level direction for the Rural City of Wangaratta council to issue a planning permit. Wangaratta North Family Motel owners Jayson Nichols and Emmalee Styles objected to the proposal on the grounds of noise, fire hazard and loss of tourism due to the visual impact. The solar farm will incorporate 80,000 solar panels on 50 hectares of industrial zoned land adjacent to their business. Mr Nichols said it was fantastic to see that some concerns were validated but they remain unhappy that tourism and the amenity that attracts tourists to the local area has been forced to take a back seat. (This is) in the interest of a headline making development for the council and government, especially considering the substantial contribution tourism makes to the local economy, he said. We have referred the matter to a barrister for consideration as to appealing through the Supreme Court as there are still multitudes of planning provisions that have been forsaken. Continued page 2 From page 1 They also believe the venture would exhaust all available industrial land in the area for the term of the 25-year lease. Earlier this year the moteliers appealed to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) and following moves from applicant Countrywide Energy (CWE) to expedite the process, the Minister for Planning Richard Wynne called in the issue. Planning Panels Victoria has spent the last 10 weeks assessing the application and they strongly supported the permit approval. Mr Wynne established an independent and expert advisory committee to review the proposal and undertake a hearing. The project was strongly supported by the committee, who recommended that it be approved. They deemed that the development will not unduly affect surrounding properties, with permit conditions including requirements to manage amenity impacts, noise levels, visual impacts, fire risks and native vegetation removal. Countrywide Energy director Geoff Drucker said it was great news and they can now appoint an engineering, procurement and construction company. The planning permit conditions are more comprehensive now with some minor changes to screening, he said. The screen will be in the form of native vegetation along the Bowser Road between the motel and the solar farm. Mr Drucker said due to the delays, construction will commence in the second quarter of 2018. Minister Wynne said they were getting the balance right reducing planning delays and uncertainty, while allowing objectors a chance to make their case. This project will create jobs, boost the local economy and help us reach our ambitious renewable energy targets because thats what drives down power prices for companies and families, he said. Jaclyn Symes (MLC, Northern Victoria) said the decision green lights an important project in our region, and addresses the concerns of locals along the way. The Wangaratta Solar Farm will play a big part in Victorias clean future and will create jobs and a stronger local economy. The farm will create up to 90 jobs during construction and 10 once complete, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and drive down power prices for Victorian families. Licensed by Copyright Agency. You may only copy or communicate this work with a licence.