Sheed wants outcome on solar projects

By Country News

State Member for Shepparton Suzanna Sheed is calling on the Victorian Government to make a decision in relation to the three outstanding solar farm applications in the Shepparton district.

Ms Sheed, together with other concerned members of the community, made submissions to the government to ensure that local concerns regarding land use were taken into account.

Ms Sheed said she, and others, were led to believe the decisions would be made and the final guidelines would be released by June 30.

‘‘The Greater Shepparton City Council referred this matter to the minister’s office for decision because of the sensitivities associated with using the proposed land for solar farms,’’ she said.

‘‘While there is widespread desire for renewable energy projects in our region, appropriate planning procedures must be applied and the guidelines being created should be applied to these applications currently with the minister.

‘‘It would be ridiculous to approve these three solar farm applications considering none would pass the draft guidelines released for public comment.’’

Ms Sheed said it was entirely inappropriate to locate solar farms on highly valuable and modernised irrigation land within the irrigation district.

‘‘To use land as a solar farm that is located on the irrigation backbone and has been invested in so as to make it capable of being used for high-value food production simply does not make sense,’’ she said.

‘‘The government needs to make a decision and make it now.

‘‘The community is calling for some finality.’’

A government spokesperson said the three solar farms in Shepparton were still under assessment.

‘‘The Solar Energy Facilities: Design and Development Guidelines are in the process of being finalised,’’ the spokesperson said.

‘‘This is a vital tool which will deliver a thorough and comprehensive reference point to guide assessments of future solar farm applications.

‘‘It’s crucial we get this document right, because it will help inform how assessments of solar planning permit applications can get the best outcomes for communities and the environment.’’