The New South Wales government’s Independent Planning Commission has given the green light to the 200MW Bonshaw solar project in the Inverell Shire, a $A238-million project which could also feature a big battery sized up to 300MW.
Being developed by GAIA Australia, the 200MW solar project and 300MW lithium-ion battery storage project is set to be built on 149-hectares of agricultural land approximately 16km south of Bonshaw.
GAIA Australia expects the project will create up to 180 construction and 10 operational jobs, and upon expected operations in mid-2022 the project will begin generating over 560GWh of renewable energy each year – the equivalent of supplying the needs of around 70,000 homes while displacing 600,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide.
The NSW Government’s Department of Planning, Industry & Environment finalised its whole-of-government assessment of the Project in November this year, leading to Independent Planning Commission greenlighting construction of the project.
Only two conditions were placed on the project progressing, requiring GAIA Australia to rehabilitate the site when operations cease and requiring the submission of an Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Management Plan prior to carrying out any development which could disturb heritage items, and another which identifies specific heritage items that must not be impacted and those that must be salvaged prior to disturbance.
“The Commission agrees with the Department’s Assessment … and agrees that the Project is in accordance with the [Environmental Planning & Assessment] Act and is in the public interest,” its Statement of Reasons for Decision concluded.
In assessing the key issue of land-use compatibility, the Commission further noted that “the Applicant selected the Site and refined the development footprint with an aim to minimise adverse environmental impacts of the Project” and “no objections were raised in submissions regarding potential impacts upon the agricultural potential of the land.”
The Bonshaw Solar Farm is one of several solar farms in the area in various stages of planning and development. The 190MW Dumaresq Solar Farm is also set to be built in the Inverell Shire which will reportedly also include a battery storage system with a maximum capacity of 190MW/380MWh.