A 60-megawatt solar farm at Laceby has been refused by Wangaratta Council, but the mayor expects the Victorian government to overrule the decision and allow the project to go ahead anyway.
Cr Dean Rees says it will soon not be up to local councils to decide if solar farms are built within their boundaries.
The solar farm, proposed to be 130 hectares and located at the intersection of the Wangaratta-Kilfeera and Snow roads, was refused at this week's council meeting five votes to one.
A planning application previously submitted to the 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.
Ten nearby residents had objected to the solar farm because of concerns it would remove productive agricultural land, have a visual impact and be a fire risk - four spoke at the meeting to try to convince councillors to side with them.
Only Cr Harry Bussell voted in favour of the solar farm, saying he wanted the council to keep control of the project.
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The council expected Bison Energy to appeal the decision at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, but the company may not have to take that step.
"The Victorian government will override our decision. Whether it's approved, not approved or it goes to VCAT - the Victorian government will follow through and approve this solar farm whether we're all against it or all for it," Cr Rees said.
"The Victorian government's aim is to have more solar farms throughout Victoria and we're going to see them pop up everywhere shortly ... It is evident now that any solar farm application coming through in the future will be referred directly to Victoria government and won't come through councillors."
The land at Laceby is currently used for grazing.
Councillors went against the recommendation of their staff, who were happy for the solar farm to proceed because about 40 per cent of the current grazing could still take place on the land around and under the panels.
Development services director Stephen Swart said this was in line with Victorian government guidelines to protect the best agricultural land as he did not believe the Laceby property was "strategically important".