UPDATE: 'Olive branch' extended in Yarwun solar stand-off
UPDATE: RENEW Estate has confirmed Gladstone's State Development Area is one of a range of alternative sites the company is looking at after pausing its studies into the viability of the proposed Yarwun Spring Valley site.
But the company says it has not yet officially applied to build on State Development Area land.
A Renew Estate spokeswoman said the company was committed to the development of renewable energy in the Gladstone Region, but "at this stage we have not put in an application to build a solar farm within Gladstone's State Development Area".
"Our first project, Rodds Bay, located east of Bororen and located on rural freehold land, is currently under assessment by the Council," the spokeswoman said.
"Regarding the proposed Yarwun Solar Farm, we have taken on board the feedback from the local community and have paused our studies into this site while we investigate other alternative sites."
The Observer earlier reported an application to build on State Development land had been lodged by the company, after comments made by Gladstone MP Glenn Butcher on Friday.
Mr Butcher clarified today that the company had been in discussions with State Development officials to find an alternate site for the solar firm and the State Development Area land was one of the areas discussed.
"We're more than willing to help them go out and find an alternate location," Mr Butcher said.
"They've really gone out and listened to the people."
EARLIER: SOLAR energy firm Renew Estate has applied to build a solar farm in Gladstone's State Development Area, Gladstone MP Glenn Butcher told reporters on Friday.
The application could provide a potential solution to a stand-off between the company and residents of Yarwun's Spring Valley, where Renew Estate had planned to build one of two new solar farms for the region, the other being at Rodds Bay near Bororen.
Concerned Spring Valley residents had suggested the State Development land at Aldoga as a potential alternate site for the 32MW solar farm, forming the Yarwun Solar Farm Action Group to negotiate with the company and Gladstone Regional Council.
The group's chair, Graham Bambrick, was not willing to comment on the application yesterday until it was confirmed by Renew Estate directly.
But he said Yarwun residents had received word on Wednesday that the company was considering alternate locations after discussions with the group.
"Since those discussions, Renew and (joint venture partner) Wirsol have come back to us and said they've paused their studies for the time being while they looked for other suitable locations," he said.
Mr Bambrick said residents' reaction to that statement was "positive but skeptical" - but they were happy to work with Renew Estate in the future.
"It's definite progress. It's an olive branch, which is good to see," he said.
Gladstone MP Glenn Butcher made the comments about Renew Estate's application while announcing a 30-year agreement with Spanish firm Acciona to build and operate a 265MW solar farm on the State Development land.
The farm would be one of the largest solar projects in the Southern Hemisphere.
Mr Butcher said the State Development Area was "open for any type of business that wants to come".
"The local people (in Spring Valley) made it loud and clear that they didn't want a solar farm in their neighbourhood," Mr Butcher said.
"What the company has since done is come to the State Development Area and made an application to do that work in the State Development Area.
"So they will follow due process to see if that land is available, and we will facilitate them like we've done with this company (Acciona) to kick off this development.
"If the company can't do it on a private bit of property because it upsets some of the locals, well we will happily have a look at their proposal."
A representative from Renew Estate could not be reached for comment yesterday.