Solar farm charges ahead

A PROPOSAL to build a $40 million solar farm in Maffra that could create about 200 jobs is one step closer, after Wellington Shire Council approved the planning permit this week.

ARP Australian Solar director Harry Simpson said on Tuesday it was an exciting time for the region, and the planning approval was “a huge step forward”.

The company hopes to build the 63-hectare, 30 megawatt solar farm on Brewers Hill Rd, north of Maffra.

The development will include 125,000 solar panels installed on-site, and it is estimated the farm will produce enough electricity to power more than 7000 homes. 

A council spokesperson said it would be the first solar farm in Wellington Shire, and aligns with the council’s commitment to develop a sustainable and environmentally friendly municipality.

“Development of the solar farm will also benefit the local economy, with the proponent estimating approximately 200 jobs will be created during the construction phase,” the spokesperson said.

“Wellington Shire Council looks forward to working with ARP Australian Solar during this project, and welcomes their investment into our local economy.”

A smaller number of ongoing jobs are expected be available once the farm is operational. 

Extensive consultation was undertaken by ARP Australian Solar with neighbouring properties and the local community prior to the permit being issued.

Mr Simpson said development of the Maffra Solar Farm would continue throughout 2018, with the aim of bringing the installation online in early 2019.

“ARP Australian Solar continues to be interested in hearing from relevant contractors in the region as well as any large scale industry and businesses in the region seeking a renewable energy alternative to their current electricity supply,” he said.

ARP Australian Solar can be contacted via email on info@arpaustraliansolar.com.au

Members of Friends of the Earth’s community campaign, Act on Climate, welcomed the project.

Campaign spokesperson Kate Wattchow said the solar farm would help rein in Victoria’s greenhouse gas while bringing jobs and investment to the region.

“The facility will contribute towards Victoria meeting its legislated target of zero net emissions by 2050 — something the whole community can be proud of,” she said.