A $175million solar farm proposal planned for between Shepparton and Numurkah may come before Moira Shire Council later this month, as the council’s boss put his cautious support behind the idea.
The 100megawatt project for cropping land east of Wunghnu belongs to Paris-based Neoen Australia.
The group expects the 500ha development will use 350000 solar panels.
Moira Shire chief executive Mark Henderson remained confident the ‘‘substantial project’’ could shore up power supply into shire towns and help prevent ‘‘significant power fluctuations’’ experienced.
The plan is expected to create more than 200 jobs during the construction phase and inject ‘‘a lot of cash into the local economy’’ and about five operational jobs on an ongoing basis.
Mr Henderson said the shire regularly found power supply into its towns was not adequate and anything that injected new energy into market was, in the council’s view, good for business.
‘‘It’s got to be an advantage to have increased supply capacity coming into the region,’’ he said.
The company said the clean power development would be equivalent to taking either 75000 cars off the road or planting 390000 trees, producing enough electricity to power about 42000 homes with renewable energy.
The site was chosen because of the abundant solar resource, proximity to an existing electricity sub-station, adequate local electricity load with potential for growth, supportive landholders and low anticipated visual impact.
Mr Henderson said there were only select locations ideal for such developments, dependent on proximity to high-voltage connection lines.
A mediation session hoping to find some middle ground had recently been organised with a number of objectors to the project.
Following the session, the shire said a number of the detractors were satisfied with the project.
He said issues objectors raised were about the traffic impact during the construction phase and visual amenity.
The company met with some objectors last Thursday.
Mr Henderson understood the significant footprint of the project and impact on the landscape, but said the council would protect the road network.
Mr Henderson said the council was supportive of renewable energy projects and would do its best to address the concerns of neighbours.
‘‘When you’re used to looking at a dairy farm, and suddenly there’s solar panels, it’s a change in landscape, ’’ he said.
‘‘We’ll do our best to minimise the impact.
‘‘We’re optimistic it’s a genuinely serious project. Subject to the planning process, we’ll do everything we can to support it.’’
Neoen head of solar development for Australia Chris Leonard said the Numurkah solar farm would be larger than others under construction in Victoria, including the Gannawarra Solar Farm.
‘‘We have engaged with the objectors and have had constructive conversations with them in Numurkah,’’ Mr Leonard said.
‘‘As with all of our projects, we want to adopt a transparent approach and make ourselves available for discussions with the local community.’’