A large-scale solar and battery project that looked likely to get stuck in Victoria’s development pipeline as an indirect result of Coronavirus containment measures has been given special passage through the approval process by the local council.
The Bendigo Advertiser reported on Wednesday afternoon that South Energy’s 200MW Raywood solar farm, proposed for construction in Sebastian in northern Victoria, would go ahead after the Loddon Shire Council dropped a protocol requiring its sign-off for projects that attracted community objections.
As RenewEconomy reported on Tuesday, the council was due to vote on the project at a meeting on that same day, but the meeting had been adjourned in line with state government restrictions designed to limit the spread of Covid-19.
According to the meeting’s agenda, the outcome had looked promising for South Energy, with a recommendation from council to “resolve to grant a planning permit” for use and development of land for a solar farm, despite local objections.
The Loddon Shire Council has since decided to approve the Raywood solar farm without a vote, and with a number of proposed planning requirements in response the objections of the Cambell’s Forest and District Community Action Planning Group.
As noted on Tuesday, the local action group had objected to almost every aspect of the project and claimed “the feeling was the community would not benefit from (the solar farm) in any way.”
According to the Bendigo Advertiser, the group has since stated its concerns would be addressed by the council’s proposed planning requirements.
South Energy says it plans to commence construction of the Raywood project, which will also feature a 20MW/20MWh battery storage facility, in late 2020 and be fully operational by late 2022.