The Victorian Government has released new planning guidelines for large scale solar farms to inform decision makers, developers and communities.
Acting Planning Minister, Lily D’Ambrosio, released the Solar Energy Facilities – Design and Development Guidelines, which outlines planning requirements for the farms.
Planning Minister Richard Wynne has left the state on a week-long trip to the United Kingdom, to discuss critical issues including flammable cladding and building insurance with international experts such as Dame Judith Hackitt.
Developed over nine months, including extensive community, council and industry consultation, the new guidelines aim to provide more confidence to the solar sector and encourage greater investment.
It also aims to give certainty to councils and developers as to what is required for developments to achieve acceptable outcomes for land, communities and the environment.
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Businesses looking to establish large-scale solar farms can use the guideline to ensure they are built in appropriate locations, easily accessible to the grid and consider high-productivity agricultural areas and sensitive landscapes.
The guideline also includes a number of approaches to help developers engage with communities and ensure minimal environmental or social impacts as a result of the proposal.
It will be implemented through a future planning scheme amendment to the Victorian Planning Scheme. If passed, the Planning Minister will then become the responsibility for all large-scale solar farm applications.
“With solar technology taking off in Victoria, we need to provide clear advice on how to establish best practice facilities in appropriate locations,” D’Ambrosio said.
“The guidelines will help to ensure community consultation is part of the process from an early stage, so local residents are engaged, informed and have an opportunity to provide input before the planning permit is lodged.
“Along with providing more certainty to the community, the guidelines will reduce the burden on local councils and give the renewable energy industry more confidence to invest.”