Plans to build a $195 million solar farm in central Victoria have been deferred after complaints about glare, construction dust and a loss of farming land.
The state government will decide whether the 230-hectare farm at Baringhup, two hours northwest of Melbourne, will go ahead after the Mount Alexander Shire Council voted to refer the issue to the planning minister.
“The conflict in planning policy, scale of the proposal, significance of issues raised, and links to state-wide energy and economic targets sets this application apart,” Mayor Bronwen Machin said on Wednesday.
A major concern for opponents was the loss of agricultural land as well as solar glare, appearance and dust created during construction.
Up to 260,000 solar panels and a battery storage facility would cover most of the 292-hectare property if the planning application was granted.
The farm would also include operation and maintenance buildings, plus a construction compound.
“We must make decisions with strong consideration to the net community benefit and sustainable development,” the mayor said.
The project has been reported to generate some 130 jobs during construction.
Ms Machin noted that if council ruled on the development, the decision would likely face a scrutiny by corruption watchdog, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, at significant cost to ratepayers.
So far 16 people have objected to the proposal, with one submission containing more than 250 signatures.