Planning Minister to decide on Baringhup solar farm

Mount Alexander Shire Council has been informed the Minister for Planning Richard Wynne will determine a planning permit application for a proposed solar farm in Baringhup.

The minister will instruct Planning Panels Victoria to run the planning permit application process.

Council made the request to the minister in March in recognition of the significance of the proposal to the Victorian Government’s renewable energy targets, conflicts between state and local planning policies, and to enable a more efficient and accessible planning process.

According to council, the decision will shorten the time frame for a resolution and will bring the review to the Mount Alexander Shire to ensure the community of Baringhup get a chance to have a say.

The minister will now appoint an independent planning panel to review the application, hear submissions, and make a report and recommendation to guide the minister’s decision.

While council is waiting further advice, it is expected a directions hearing will be held in the shire in July or August this year, followed by a panel hearing around six to eight weeks later.

Council received a planning permit application (PA297/2018) for the use and development of a renewable energy facility (solar and energy storage) in Baringhup in October last year. The proposed development includes about 260,000 solar panels on a 292 hectare site on Baringhup West Road.

The estimated $195 million development has the potential to generate 75 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy. It includes plans for a utility zone with a battery storage facility, satellite construction compound, and buildings for operations and maintenance.

For more on this story see Page 2 of The Advertiser, Tuesday, June 11

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