The proposed solar power plant for construction at Baringhup is now a very hot topic.
Locals expressed worry about the loss of valuable farming land. Loss of visual amenity and fire risk also factor into local concerns.
On Thursday a Planning Panels Victoria hearing commenced at Castlemaine. The directions hearing is the beginning of the formal approval process. The ultimate decision will go to the minister at the conclusion of the process.
The proposal, by RES Australia, is to construct a 75 Megawatt Solar Farm. Some people object to the term “solar farm” preferring to call it a “power station”. The rationale being that the term “solar farm” is a spin for an industrial scale development.
Over two hundred local residents have voiced their objection to the development. Less have voiced support based upon the need for renewable energy projects. Some locals also believe that the development may bring needed employment opportunities.
One local resident, opposite the proposed development, voiced his objections. “The proposal is right opposite our house” said Peter Baker. “We have no objections to renewable energy, we need it. We all support it.” he said. “But why you would take productive agricultural land out of production is beyond me”.
Another local expressed concerns about what happens to the panels at the end of their life. He raised concerns that the site may become a dumping ground for disused equipment.
The Planning Panels Victoria panel convened at the request of Mount Alexander Shire Council. The planning issue was transferred to the state Minister at councils request.
A three day hearing is set for July 15th and 16th at Bill Woodfull Reserve at Maldon. The third day of the hearing scheduled for July 23 will be at a venue to be confirmed.
The plans for the solar farm are able to be viewed on Mount Alexander Shire Council’s website. Baringhup Solar Farm Planning Application