Council will support Perry Bridge solar farm

David Braithwaite

WELLINGTON Shire Council will support a $125 million solar farm proposed for Perry Bridge.

Council will today consider approving a submission to a state government planning application process.

The submission to be put before council, written by mayor Garry Stephens, expressed hope the approval of the application would lead to more solar energy investment in Wellington Shire “to support future environmental and economic prosperity”.

“Council is of the view that the project is consistent with the current land use planning policies contained within the Wellington Planning Scheme, including advocating for the facilitation and greater use of renewable energy supply and technologies in appropriate locations,” Cr Stephens wrote.

“This sentiment is supported by strategic objectives contained within the ‘Wellington Shire Council Plan 2017-21’ and ‘Wellington 2030’, both of which recognise the instrumental role that the greater use of renewable energy developments have in supporting and stimulating economic growth and facilitating more sustainable development outcomes within the Wellington Shire.

“Should the Minister for Planning approve the planning permit application, council would welcome surety that where any concerns relating to potential social and environmental impacts have been raised, appropriate statutory measures and/or conditions are put in place to mitigate against any future issues or conflict arising as a direct consequence of the development.

“On behalf of council, I would like to acknowledge the extensive consultation and detailed technical work which has been undertaken by the proponents in support of the planning permit application.

“The views of the local community, particularly those residents in close proximity to the proposal, are an important component in the decision-making process and as such, must be recognised and afforded a commensurate degree of consideration in the final assessment of the application.”

Solis Renewable Energy, Marathon Electrical and WK and MA Ferguson are proposing to develop the solar farm on 93 hectares of land at 1775 Bengworden Rd, Perry Bridge.

The solar energy facility will comprise more than 100,000 solar panels generating 44 megawatts (which proponents say will be enough to power about 13,000 homes), with ancillary battery storage.

The site layout has been guided by the state government’s Solar Development Guidelines, CFA parameters, site context including nearby properties, location of easement and powerlines and location of native vegetation.

The proponents forecast the facility will provide 88 jobs during the construction phase, as well as provide an important electricity source to help stabilise the supply of power between Sale and Bairnsdale.

While the site sits in a farming zone, the land is of a lower agricultural value because of the soil characteristics and the annual rainfall.

The proponents say the facility will involve minimal soil disturbance and the site will be remediated to its former condition at the end of its life cycle.

Public submissions are being accepted until Thursday.

The developers are also planning an 80 megawatt solar farm in Fulham and the two gigawatt Gippsland Renewable Energy Park.

Today’s council meeting will begin at 3pm, and be live-streamed on its YouTube channel.