Central Highlands’ councillors Kerry Hayes, Charlie Brimblecombe and Christine Rolfe, and Central Highlands Development Corporation representatives visited Emerald Solar Park development last week.
The park is one of three current solar farm developments in the region and due for completion in September.
Mayor Kerry Hayes said the visit was an opportunity to observe the construction process and impacts on ground level.
‘I’m pleased to see orderly and compliant construction on the ground,’ he said.
‘The developers expressed a focus on local procurement and employment and we welcome that.
‘We’re supportive of renewables, but also mindful of the fact that this site is located on prime agricultural land amidst the irrigation scheme.
‘It’s therefore important that council understands the process and engages with developers to ensure the projects co-exist with neighbouring industries and this has been proven successful by our visit.’
Emerald was identified as a solar hot spot and received an influx of solar farm applications in 2017. In early 2018, the council identified a need to apply a greater level of scrutiny for development applications on prime agricultural land under the irrigation scheme.
Solar farm development applications on land within the irrigation scheme were changed from code assessable to impact assessable under a temporary land use planning instrument.
Emerald Solar Park facts:
There are 261,000 panels for the solar farm.
40% of the panels have arrived at the Emerald site.
Each section is 90 metres long with a centralised control device that guides movement.
There is very little noise generated by the movement of the panels.
The structure is pile-driven two metres into the ground to limit the amount of concreate used onsite.
Solar panels are situated off the ground to keep them cool.
Solar panels work better in cooler weather.
The ground under the panels is sown with a legume mix to reduce dust.
Developer Res Group is exploring the use of robotic mowers for ongoing grounds maintenance.