New guidelines will help communities have their say in the next phase of south-west Queensland’s solar farm boom.
Speaking from Yarranlea Solar Farm near Dalby today, Natural Resources, Mines and Energy Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said the new Queensland Solar Farm Guidelines responded to calls from regional communities and industry for certainty.
“These guidelines are a clear checklist for local governments about what’s needed for sustainable, community and industry led large-scale solar development,” Dr Lynham said.
“Over the past three years Queensland has seen an unprecedented wave of renewable energy investment worth $1.3 billion with the construction of 13 large scale solar projects from Lakeland in the Far North to Dalby in the south-west.
“In the south-west alone, five large-scale solar projects are either underway or financially committed, bringing almost $640 million in investment and 670 jobs to the south-west, as well as more than 300 megawatts of renewable energy for the grid.
“And the good news is there’s more to come – there are another eleven solar projects in the broader pipeline that could potentially be developed in the south-west offering $10 billion in investment, more than 3300 jobs and 4600 megawatts of renewable energy.
“But it’s essential that communities, landholders, investors and governments at all levels can work together to make sure the next wave of investment happens sustainably.
“For traditional owners, communities and landholders the guidelines outline approval processes, technical and environmental considerations, ways to give feedback, information on the stages of solar development and what a new solar project can mean for a community.
“For industry, these guidelines provide a one-stop-shop guide on navigating government development approvals, expectations about best practice to engage the local community, location guidance and the legal framework which governs solar farm developments.
“We are rapidly becoming the solar state but we must ensure these projects are also compatible with the interests of Queenslanders whose communities are their sites,” Dr Lynham said.
Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning Cameron Dick said the guidelines would assist local government to support the growing renewable energy industry.
“The guidelines support Queensland local governments to plan and regulate proposed solar farm development appropriately, to ensure potential impacts are balanced against the jobs and economic activity they may bring,” Mr Dick said.
“The guidelines will support local government to identify where solar farm development is appropriate in their community and establish appropriate assessment provisions in their planning scheme.
“Local government will remain as the assessment manager for solar farm development applications, but the State Government will continue to work with councils to ensure the guidelines are effective and where needed, provide additional support.”