Infinergy Pacific has submitted an updated development application to Victoria’s Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning for its proposed $150 million Bookaar Solar Farm, to be located about 10 kilometres north-west of Camperdown.
First mooted in 2018, the Bookaar Solar Farm – a joint project of Infinergy Pacific and landowners, former Corangamite MP Stewart McArthur and family – would feature up to 700,000 solar modules, inverters, a substation and battery storage across a 558-hectare site.
The proposed facility is expected to have an operational life span of up to 30 years and would generate up to 420 GWh of zero-carbon electricity per year but the project has repeatedly failed to secure development approval.
The Corangamite Shire Council rejected the initial proposal in 2018 with loss of agricultural land and community opposition contributing factors.
A subsequent appeal to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) was dismissed in 2019 with Victoria’s planning arbitrator pointing to a lack of information around drainage and bushfire management in the application submitted.
Infinergy said the updated application, including a detailed design of the solar farm, has been submitted to the Minister for Planning who is now the responsible authority for large-scale solar developments in Victoria.
“In response to the Tribunal’s decision not to grant an approval, Bookaar Renewables has further refined the proposal to ensure that the issues identified by the Tribunal have been addressed,” Infinergy said in a statement.
“In particular, the solar farm has been designed in response to further detailed hydrological and bushfire assessments.
“However, it should be noted that the proposal remains a design for a 200 MW solar farm of the same dimensions and characteristics, located within the same design envelope as the previous planning application.”
The location of the substation, battery and operations buildings have been rearranged to avoid a flood-prone area but they remain on the western boundary of the site, adjacent to the high-voltage transmission line that will connect the facility to the National Electricity Market (NEM) via the Terang and the Ballarat substations.
Inter-row spacing of the single-axis tracking system has been adjusted from 12m to 12.75m south of the 220 kV transmission line and 13m north of the transmission line.
The number of site access points has been increased from five to eight in response to the bushfire assessment while the number of water tanks for fire prevention has been increased from one to eight.
“The Infinergy Australia team has been working hard to address concerns raised by the VCAT decision handed down in July last year,” Infinergy said in the statement.
“With the benefit of additional assessments, we are confident that it can be demonstrated that the proposal will not have any unacceptable environmental impacts.”
If approved, it is estimated the solar farm will take approximately 12 months to construct with Infinergy suggesting operations could commence in 2022.
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