ACT solar farm rejected by Uriarra approved for Williamsdale

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The fate of an ACT solar farm that was rejected by the local community at its original development site now looks to be secure, after the 11.8MW project was granted planning approval for its new location in Williamsdale.

The OneSun Capital solar project, owned by Elementus Energy, was moved some 60-odd kilometres to a new site on the ACT-NSW border, after plans to build it opposite the rural village of Uriarra met fierce local opposition.


The Uriarra site proposed for the OneSun Capital solar farm was rejected by the local community

As we reported in August 2014, the ACT government was “swamped” by objections to the Uriarra proposal, mostly from locals who argued the project would damage the character and appeal of the adjacent village, block views, and depress house prices.

The decision to relocate the solar farm to Williamsdale was agreed to by Elementus last March after 18 months of community backlash at Uriarra, and the project was granted approval by ACT planning minister Mick Gentleman on Friday.


The long road to planning approval

“Naturally we are very pleased with this outcome, and delighted that the Minister has personally recognised how significant this project is for the Canberra region”, said Elementus managing director Ashleigh Antflick.

The company said in a statement that the current iteration of the proposed solar farm had undergone a rigorous assessment process, including multiple rounds of community engagement, led by both Elementus and the ACT government.

“The proposal initially required a s.211 determination in relation to environmental impact, and that process also required community consultation,” said Antflick.

“We took on board feedback during this phase of the approval process, and amended our plans to address the concerns raised before lodging our Development Approval application for assessment and public notification.”

“During the DA assessment process we received further feedback from community and agency stakeholders, which has been incorporated into the approved project”, he said.

“We consider this to be a positive outcome for the territory, for renewable energy in the region, and all stakeholders in the project.

‘We are now on well defined pathway, and with the continued input of critical stakeholders such as ActewAGL, we will deliver the project before the end of this year.

“When the solar farm is switched on later in the year, there will be a significant number of people who will be justifiably proud of their combined efforts”, Antflick said.


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  • John Bromhead

    Elementus Energy has to deliver the project by the end of the year. Only 7MW of the project was from a $186/MWh winning bid in the second stage of the ACT solar auction. The rest of the project comes from successful applications to construct smaller facilities as part of the ACT small and medium scale feed-in tariff schemes that were rolled together. These two schemes had been capped at 15MW each but were allowed to become oversubscribed at 36MW when the plug was pulled in July 2011.
    Half way through last year it appeared that there were still 172 applications totalling about 9MW still to be installed. These had feed-in tariffs of between $350/MWh for industrial generators and up to $500/MWh for home rooftops. At this stage the ACT government legislated that these generators had to be operating before the end of 2016 or lose the 20 year tariffs.

    • John Bromhead

      I am mistaken about the amount of PV solar that had not been installed. In an article in the Canberra Times last year Minister Corbell stated that the scheme had closed at 33MW, the small scale scheme was 404kW and the medium scale scheme was 7MW. I believe the 7MW are now in the hands of three companies and one Solar Choice has already installed 600MW on a large government school in Canberra. Although Minister Corbell describes these projects as part of the medium scale scheme (greater than 10kW and less than
      200kW) they were allocated as early as 2009 at 70% of the small scale tariff of $500/MWh.

  • Can anyone explain why in Australia we seem to get swamped by community objections on most renewable energy projects that are proposed.
    I am aware of one wind farm success but that was where the community was encouraged to become shareholders in the project, probably at a discounted rate.
    Are developers locating these projects too close to communities?
    Are “inducements” the answer?
    Or we just a bunch of whingeing Aussies?
    Any thoughts?