February 22, 2019
South Burnett councillors have voted on the next step in legal proceedings involving Terrain Solar – the company which hopes to build a solar farm on the outskirts of Kingaroy – but no one is willing to state publicly exactly what that next step is.
In November, Council voted to reject a proposal by Terrain Solar to build a 130ha solar farm on a large block of land at the corner of Kingaroy-Barkers Creek Road and Redmans Road.
Terrain immediately filed an appeal in the Planning and Environment Court in Brisbane citing the SBRC and seven co-respondents.
Five of the people named are local residents, either living beside or overlooking the proposed development.
Two others have interests in land near the development.
All seven had lodged objections with Council against the project.
Councillors went into confidential session on Wednesday to consider an offer by Terrain Solar to settle its appeal against the Council decision.
After a long session behind closed doors, Cr Terry Fleischfresser moved, Cr Kathy Duff seconded:
“That Council resolve to accept the recommendations contained within the report in relation to the development application for a material change of use for a Major Utility (40MW Solar Farm) and reconfiguring a lot (access easement and subdivision by lease) on land at 397 Kingaroy Barkers Creek Road, Kingaroy described as Lots 4 and 5 on SP219361 and Lot 228 on FTZ37463.”
The vote was carried 6-0.
Cr Roz Frohloff, who has previously declared a conflict of interest in the matter, was absent and did not vote.
However, it is unclear whether the vote means the SBRC will be defending Terrain Solar’s appeal or whether negotiations are being undertaken with the company.
Citing confidentiality, Mayor Keith Campbell referred southburnett.com.au to Council CEO Mark Pitt, saying he was the only person authorised to speak about the matter
But Mr Pitt could only confirm that as a result of the vote “Council will be participating in the court process”.
southburnett.com.au contacted one of the other parties listed in the appeal but they were also in the dark about what Council was proposing to do.
No date has been set yet for the first mention of the matter in court.
Terrain Solar has been approached for comment.
Controversy also surrounds the massive Harlin Solar Farm proposed to be built along a seven kilometre stretch of land adjacent to the D’Aguilar Highway.
Sunshine Energy Australia aims to build a 1500MW solar farm on a 2055ha site between Harlin and Kilcoy, with the potential to be increased to 2GW.
In November last year, Somerset Regional Council approved the development application for the 1500MW farm to be built in two stages.
Conditions included that trees be planted along the fenceline and that solar panels cannot be installed within 100 metres of a neighbouring property.
Four local residents filed appeals against the decision in the Planning and Environment Court on January 21.
A Directions Hearing has been listed for February 27.
Despite this, a sod-turning was held on the site this week, attended by Assistant Treasurer Glenn Butcher.
Opposition Leader and Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington said Mr Butcher’s attendance pre-empted the final decision on the project.
“This is an arrogant and reckless move by the Labor Government,” Mrs Frecklington said.
“The project is currently the subject of an appeal with the Planning and Environment Court.
“We also know that Sunshine Energy don’t even own the land on which the project is planned.
“By attending the sod-turning on this proposed development, Labor is pre-empting the Court’s decision and may even be creating a bias towards the outcome.”
[UPDATED. Originally published as “Council Votes Again On Terrain”]