$550m solar farm still in the works in Banana Shire
A $550 MILLION solar farm in the Banana Shire is still in the works, almost a year after the project was approved.
The project is located on a footprint of 2,113ha on a series of properties in the Dixalea/Ulogie area, on the Tomlins, Dodsons and Hibbs rds.
There would be 1,993ha of built infrastructure and the site is to be connected to Powerlink's 275 kV Calvale to Stanwell Transmission Line via a new switchyard at the solar farm.
The site would include solar panels and mounting/tracking infrastructure, site office and five car parks, access and perimeter track and security perimeter fence, battery storage facility, facility switchyard and inverter stations.
The solar farm would have 450MW and is said to be built over three stages with each stage taking 12 to 18 months.
It would support up to 400 jobs during construction and have the ability to supply about 200,000 homes.
Upon completion, five full-time staff would be employed for maintenance and operation.
The developer, Edify Energy, said it was still committed to the project.
At this stage it is unclear when construction for the project will begin, however an update is expected in the coming months.
The project itself was granted full approval by Banana Shire Council in December 2019, subject to a number of conditions.
The height of any building is restricted to under 10 metres, not including support towers for the transmission line or switchyards.
Earthworks at the site are limited to the establishment of building pads, hardstand areas, internal areas and roads, vehicle parking area and minor re-profiling of land beneath the solar arrays and trenching.
Screen landscaping must be installed on some of the site boundaries for privacy of nearby residences.
The developed portion of the land is to be leased for up to 40 years and upon cessation of the solar farm, the land is to be remediated to its prior rural use.
The application received 11 properly made submissions during the public notification period, and of these, six were in favour and five opposed the project.
Soil quality was raised and it was replied the construction method was done in a way that reduced exposure to risk or erosion.
There were concerns of contamination of waterways from panel damage or battery failure.
The solar farm would be bound by the general obligations of the Environmental Protection Act which this falls under. The developer will be open to prosecution if it fails its obligations of the act.
A submitter questioned if less rainfall would hit the ground, resulting in ground and waterway impact, however this was defunct as there was no evidence to back this up.
It is understood run-off from the panels will continue to discharge directly to ground as is currently the case.
Biosecurity was also raised and it was noted the developer could be subject to a biosecurity and weed management program.
A risk of fire is unlikely as the project is in a no or low bushfire area.
The solar farm is not expected to have an impact on stress levels of livestock.
The project is also subject to dust and noise management nuisance, to facilitate concerns from neighbours.
The report notes the lease area of 2,133ha equates to a lost production of about 890 head of cattle annually.
Indications are the Teys processing plant slaughters about 200,000 head annually and the lost production represents less than 0.5 per cent in lost production.