A Japanese company wants to build a 70-megawatt solar farm in Laceby, south of Wangaratta, but residents are split over their support for the project.
The planning application submitted to Wangaratta Council by Bison Energy stated the estimated cost of the development was $93 million, but the report said the capital investment value was estimated at $120 million.
One of the issues from nearby residents was that the 130-hectare solar farm would be on land with a long history of agricultural use, including previous cropping.
Especially in the case of a resident whose family had lived on the property for 100 years, they were concerned a solar farm could change the identity of the agricultural area.
IN OTHER NEWS:
Bison Energy has conducted a broad consultation process around the solar farm, including a community meeting in Wangaratta and in-person visits to nearby homes.
Some other residents supported the project.
The company has argued construction of the solar farm would provide employment for up to 150 temporary workers, who would be accommodated in Wangaratta or other local towns such as Oxley or Glenrowan.
If approved, construction is expected to take 12 to 18 months starting in the second half of 2020.
Another positive would be the proposed Laceby benefit sharing program, where Bison Energy would contribute money to sporting facilities in the region or provide funding to primary and high schools for renewable energy initiatives.
The solar farm is proposed to operate for 25 to 30 years then be decommissioned, where the 182,000 solar panels will be removed and the site will return to its agricultural land use.