The Victorian Government has released new planning guidelines for large-scale solar farms.
Acting Minister for Planning, Lily D’Ambrosio, released the final Solar Energy Facilities – Design and Development Guideline, which will help inform a range of decision makers, solar farm developers and communities on planning requirements for large-scale solar farms.
The guideline was shaped by a nine-month development process including extensive consultation with communities, councils and industry and a review of best-practice standards interstate and internationally.
The release of the guideline is intended to provide more confidence to the solar sector and encourage greater investment, as part of Victoria’s renewable energy boom.
The guideline also gives certainty for councils and developers as to what is required for developments to achieve acceptable outcomes for land, communities and the environment.
Businesses looking to establish large-scale solar farms in Victoria will use the guideline to ensure proposals are built in appropriate locations, easily accessible to the grid and consider high-productivity agricultural areas and sensitive landscapes.
The guideline also includes a range of best-practice approaches to help developers engage with communities and ensure the least possible environmental and social impacts of their proposals.
The guideline will be implemented through a future planning scheme amendment to the Victorian Planning Scheme. If the amendment passes the Minister for Planning will then become the responsible authority for all large-scale solar farm applications.
Minister D’Ambrosio said that with solar technology taking off in Victoria, we need to provide clear advice on how to establish best practice facilities in appropriate locations.
“The guidelines will help to ensure community consultation is part of the process from an early stage, so local residents are engaged, informed and have an opportunity to provide input before the planning permit is lodged.
“Along with providing more certainty to the community, the guidelines will reduce the burden on local councils and give the renewable energy industry more confidence to invest.”
The guideline can be found here.