Solar farm input sought

If approved, a solar farm similar to the one pictured above will be constructed at ‘Meningoort’ at Bookaar, boasting 700,000 solar panels, 60 inverters and an on-site substation. The proposal is expected to create up to 150 jobs during its construction phase and 12 full time jobs when completed.

BOOKAAR could soon be the location of a $150 million solar farm containing 700,000 solar panels if a planning application now before the Corangamite Shire Council is approved.

A joint project of Infinergy Australia Pty Ltd and the landowners, the solar farm is proposed for 520 Meningoort Road on the property historically known as ‘Meningoort’.

The proposal is expected to generate about 200 megawatts of energy, enough to power the equivalent of 80,000 average Victorian homes each year for the next 30 years.

If approved, the solar farm is expected to offset about 450,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.

“The proposal is expected to generate up to 150 jobs over approximately 12 months during the construction phase of the development and approximately eight to 12 full time jobs during operation,” the planning application said.

“This may include opportunities for electricians, earthworks contractors, builders, fencers, landscapers, signage contractors and nursery workers.

“This represents a small but significant contribution to the local economy and would assist in the (Corangamite) shire’s efforts to generate population growth through job creation.

“The development of the proposal would also assist in positioning Corangamite Shire as participants in the renewable energy industry, presenting marketing benefits and expand economic development opportunities.”

The section of land at Bookaar earmarked for the region’s first solar farm.

The planning application also envisages flow-on effects to the local economy with construction staff using local goods and services, such as housing, retail, health and hospitality services.

“A further benefit of the proposal is the diversification of the landowner’s potential income stream,” the application said.

“This can assist in additional investment into the remainder of the property, along with providing economic resilience in the ever challenging agricultural environment.”

According to the planning application, the exact siting and height of the solar panels will not be determined until a planning approval has been confirmed.

However, the solar panels themselves will each measure two metres by one metre and be mounted on poles with a maximum height of four metres.

The proposal includes the use of 60 central inverters located throughout the solar farm and mounted as ‘double inverters’ measuring about 12 metres long, three metres wide and 2.5 metres high.

The solar farm’s connection to the national electricity grid is expected to be via a high voltage 220 kilovolt overhead transmission line that already exists on the farm as part of the Terang-Ballarat line.

The planning application also details the construction of an on-site substation measuring 125 metres by 140 metres with a maximum height of eight metres.

If approved, the solar farm will also include a battery storage facility to store electricity during

peak operation periods, which will then be released during periods of high grid demand.

The applicants argue the solar farm will have no significant impacts on landscape values, flora and fauna, heritage places or the availability of agricultural land.

“The applicant has selected the land with the lowest agricultural value within the wider property to locate the site,” the application said.

The planning application can be viewed at the Corangamite Shire’s Manifold Street offices or online at www.corangamite.vic.gov.au/Property/Planning/Statutory-Planning/View-current-planning-applications-on-notice with submissions accepted until Monday, September 3.

A full suite of supportive documents accompany the application, covering site layout, glint and glare, ecology, heritage, hydrology, cultural and transport impacts.

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