November 21, 2018
A proposal to build a solar farm 3km east of Kingaroy has been rejected by the South Burnett Regional Council.
At Wednesday’s monthly meeting, Councillors voted unanimously to reject a proposal by Terrain Solar to build a 130ha solar farm on a large block at the corner of Kingaroy-Barkers Creek Road and Redmans Road.
Council officers recommended the proposal be refused because the development would conflict with State, regional and local planning policies protecting good quality agricultural land.
Officers said the solar farm’s projected 50-year lifespan would remove the site from productive use for an unacceptable length of time.
They said the applicant had also failed to demonstrate there was an overriding community need for the solar farm proposal in the location where they wanted to build it.
Terrain Solar had not shown the solar farm couldn’t be built on an alternative site that wasn’t good quality agricultural land.
Before the debate began, Cr Roz Frohloff declared a conflict of interest and left the room.
Cr Frohloff said her sister and brother-in-law owned a block of land near the site, and had signed a petition against it.
Cr Terry Fleischfresser said he was happy to support the recommendations of consultants Reel Planning Pty Ltd, who had been called in to assess the proposal at arms-length from Council’s planning staff, and Council officers who had reviewed Reel Planning’s findings.
Cr Gavin Jones said he would support the officers’ recommendations, too.
He was not against solar farms, he said, but didn’t think the location for Terrain Solar’s project was the right one.
Deputy Mayor Kathy Duff agreed, saying it was part of Council’s core responsibility to protect good quality agricultural land.
Mayor Keith Campbell said while the Council was pro-development, this did not mean it supported development at any cost.
“Developments must accord with the town plan,” Mayor Campbell said.
The motion to reject the development was carried 6-0.
Terrain Solar will now have to take the Council to the Planning and Environment Court if it wishes to appeal the decision.
On Wednesday afternoon, Terrain Solar director Simon Ingram told southburnett.com.au the company was “understandably disappointed with the decision”.
“However, we’ll wait for the Decision Notice to arrive and make a decision on what to do then.”
Mr Ingram said the Kingaroy site had been chosen because it was currently being used for light-touch grazing and was well-positioned to electrical infrastructure.
He said the company faced many constraints when it came to choosing solar farm sites, and he thought the site and the company’s plan to allow grazing amongst the solar farm’s panels had “ticked all the boxes”.
However – looking more broadly – he thought the company’s plans to build more solar farms would ultimately bear fruit, whether it built one in Kingaroy or at any of several other sites the firm had ear-marked.