Plans for a 130MW solar farm in Queensland sugar cane country, on hold since July, have been approved by the Queensland government, paving the way for what would be one of Australia’s largest solar developments.
Queensland deputy premier and minister for local government and planning, Jackie Trad, advised that her department had approved the Clare project on Wednesday.
It comes just under two months after it stepped in to end a potentially lengthy legal dispute between the developer, Spanish renewables company FRV, and a local sugar farmer.
The project’s development was appealed by local monopoly sugar cane harvesting and milling company Wilmar Sugar, on the grounds it would take up good quality agricultural land.
But Trad, who first flagged the state government “call-in” in July, said that “if the matter was not resolved expeditiously, the Burdekin community could be deprived of an important new project that would contribute to much needed economic development and jobs for the local economy.”
She said the project would complement the region’s existing energy supply, with a renewable energy source that would service industrial development and economic growth. The plant is expected to generate enough electricity to power around 65,000 homes in the region.
Burdekin Shire Council Mayor, Bill Lowis, has welcomed news of the Minister’s approval for the solar farm, describing it as a “significant step towards the project being constructed on Shadforth Road, Clare,” and a breakthrough for the Council’s focus on economic development.
“This is great news for us and supports Council’s decision to approve the project,” Lowis said. “Now the Minister has approved the project, it is up to the proponents, FRV, to move it forward.”
Lowis added that he hoped this would be the first of many new investments to be made in the Burdekin.
“These are exciting times for our region and our Council team is working hard to ensure this, and other proposals, are handled in an efficient manner,” he said.
“Our Council is all for growing the Burdekin and diversification is one way to ensure a sustainable economy.
“The proposed solar farm has the potential to power 65,000 homes and will give the Burdekin a clean, green energy source.”
The 340-hectare Clare Solar Farm project will be one of the largest in Australia and employ up to 200 people during its construction.