Heat turned up on Stanhope solar farm

By Country News

Another solar farm could be on its way, but it has to get through Campaspe Shire Council approval and the backlash it has received from nearby residents first.

The 30MW structure is being proposed by Australian company GloBird Energy on 45ha across two lots on either side of Downing Rd, Stanhope.

As well as the solar farm, GloBird hopes to construct a 100MW storage battery, at a total project cost of $150million.

‘‘The project will produce 41million kilowatt-hours of green energy per year, enough for 11100 homes,’’ GloBird renewables and disruptives manager Luke Scott said.

‘‘Victoria’s biggest battery would make this green energy available at any time. It will reduce Victoria’s greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 53000tonnes per year,’’ Mr Scott said.

‘‘The project is estimated to create 75 full-time jobs during construction, two full-time jobs during operation, as well as part-time roles for site and cattle maintenance.

‘‘The project has already created work for local part-time cattlemen and gardeners, and leased land to a neighbouring farmer.

‘‘The two solar farms approved at Lancaster and Girgarre and possible farms at Shepparton will change the grid.

‘‘None have storage. GloBird’s solar and storage site offers grid support to Stanhope, Kyabram, Rochester, Shepparton and surrounding areas.’’

Some residents near the proposed location, at 3799 Midland Hwy, Stanhope, are attempting to stop the project from going ahead.

Tracey McArthur, who lives on Downing Rd, which is one of the proposed access roads, was concerned about the extra traffic and noise that would be produced during construction.

‘‘The application states 40 heavy vehicle movements (a truck going into and out of a property is considered two movements) per week (to the site),’’ Ms McArthur said.

‘‘That’s (only) enough to get the batteries in. All the estimates are laughable. It’s just a joke. It’s just ridiculous.’’

Mr Scott reassured concerned residents that noise from the site would not outdo the level permitted by the EPA and that VicRoads required traffic studies, traffic management plans and road maintenance as conditions of its support.

He also said the project would be designed to work with grazing and the agricultural land would remain productive.

The objectors have taken the matter into their own hands by sending letters to Victorian Planning Minister Richard Wynne, urging him to call in this solar farm as he has done for the Greater Shepparton proposals.

Campaspe Shire councillors are expected to vote on the project at a meeting in October.