The NSW Independent Planning Commission (IPC) has granted development approval for FRV Services Australia to build the 300MW Walla Walla Solar Farm.
The project, the company’s fourth solar development project in NSW, will introduce a further source of clean energy and supply up to 90,000 NSW homes and businesses, and was considered by the IPC as part of the State Significant Development Approvals scheme.
Approval of the Walla Walla Solar Farm – the first large-scale solar farm to be approved following the passing of the NSW Government’s Renewable Infrastructure Roadmap – includes a plan to encourage up to $32 billion in private clean energy investment.
In awarding the project a Development Approval, the IPC acknowledged earlier advice provided by the NSW Department Planning, Industry and Environment that Walla Walla Solar Farm “would stimulate economic investment in renewable energy and provide flow-on benefits to the local community, through job creation, capital investment and substantial contributions to Council for community enhancement projects”.
The Walla Walla Solar Farm project will boost the local economy by creating around 250 construction jobs and will lift investment in local services such as fencing, civil works, land management, hospitality and accommodation.
The estimated capital value of the project – $400 million – is 2.5 times more than the current annual construction output of the Riverina region.
Managing Director of FRV Australia, Carlo Frigerio, welcomed the IPC’s Determination.
“Walla Walla Solar Farm is a State Significant project by definition and we are very pleased we will now be able to proceed to private financing and construction, given its potential to help NSW deliver quality new renewable energy infrastructure and transition away from fossil fuels,” Mr Frigerio said.
Involvement of neighbours and the wider community has been key during the planning of the project.
Design and layout of the solar farm has been in strict accordance with local planning laws and has specifically aimed to protect the amenity of nearby residents.
Additionally, FRV has developed local funding plans to provide sustainable returns and benefits to the local area via a Voluntary Planning Agreement with the Greater Hume Shire Council.
FRV acknowledged that while there had been opposition to the solar farm from some neighbours, broader community support for renewable energy projects was strong, with 83 per cent of the NSW community wanting more renewable energy.
Head of Project Development of FRV Australia, Tarek Al Sampaile, said, “We have worked exceptionally hard to ensure plans for Walla Walla Solar Farm reflect a balanced and considerate design that will provide a strategically important new source of clean energy for NSW while protecting the amenity of nearby residents.”
Development of the Walla Walla Solar Farm will now progress to its final phases before construction can start.