The ACT’s Minister for Planning and Land Management has approved a development proposal for a 11.18MW solar farm to be constructed south of Canberra, near Williamsdale.
The proposal was “called in”, meaning the Minister assumed the role of assessment manager for the development application. The Minister is able to call in a project if a development is considered a major policy issue, has a major effect on government objectives and provides a substantial benefit.
“Once completed, the solar farm will power more than 2500 homes, contributing to the Territory’s renewable energy and greenhouse gas reduction targets,” said Minister Mick Gentleman.
“Under the Territory’s greenhouse gas reduction strategy, renewable energy will account for roughly 73 per cent of the emission reductions needed if the ACT is to reach its legislated 2020 target.”
The solar farm will be situated on farmland near the Monaro Highway and Angle Crossing Road in Tuggeranong, at a site just a couple of hundred metres from the ACT’s border with New South Wales. The new solar power station will be around 10 kilometres from the 24MW Royalla Solar Farm.
Minister Gentleman stated he has imposed strict conditions on the development as part of his decision, in order to address concerns raised in four submissions by members of the community. One of those conditions is that non-glare materials be used. Appropriate landscaping works will also be carried out and sufficient bushfire management measures put in place.
Even with the conditions imposed on the Williamsdale project, some still aren’t happy the project is going ahead and feel the consultation process was lacking.
The Williamsdale site wasn’t the first choice for the solar farm. It was originally proposed to be built adjacent to Uriarra Village. However, many Uriarra Village residents were strongly opposed to the project; primarily on the basis of aesthetics and what they stated was a lack of procedural fairness.
The ACT has a legislated target of 90% renewable energy by 2020; a goal it appears it will reach. In August, ACT Labor proposed an even more ambitious renewables target – 100% by 2025.