Independent Member for Shepparton District Suzanna Sheed says she welcomes yesterday’s release of the long awaited Solar Guidelines.
“I and others in the community have been calling for their release for some time so as to give some certainty as to future arrangements both for the roll-out of solar in our district but also to create some surety around the protection of high-value irrigation land,” Ms Sheed said.
The new guidelines should create more certainty around the application process for solar energy facilities.
“My interpretation of this guideline is that it is designed to give proponents an early indication of their likely chance of success based on the water authority providing advice as to the strategic nature of the irrigation land within their district and where solar is and is not likely to be acceptable,” Ms Sheed said.
Placing solar energy facilities where they will have the least impact on valuable farm land, particularly in irrigation districts, is vitally important according to Ms Sheed.
“I was pleased to see in the guidelines the acknowledgement that Victoria produces over 30 per cent of Australia’s food and fibre and that there are many areas where renewable energy generation and agricultural production can coexist in a satisfactory manner,” Ms Sheed said.
“However, there is also recognition of the importance of maintaining strategically important irrigated agricultural land.
“The guidelines provide increased recognition of the need for early discussions with the rural water authority when considering the location of the solar farm within a declared irrigation district and this will no doubt be very persuasive in assisting proponents of a solar development to make a sound decision and avoid the considerable delays that have occurred in relation to the outstanding solar farm proposals in the Greater Shepparton area.”
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