Solar guidelines now part of Victorian planning schemes

By Rodney Woods

New planning guidelines are in place for large-scale solar developments in Victoria, after Planning Minister Richard Wynne introduced an amendment to all planning schemes in the state.

Mr Wynne implemented the Solar Energy Facilities – Design and Development Guideline, which ensures new solar energy facilities, producing one megawatt or more, are built in appropriate locations that:

¦are easily accessible to the electricity transmission network;

¦avoid or minimise impacts on their local environments; and

¦consider impacts on productive agricultural areas, irrigated areas and areas of environmental importance.

It also includes a range of best practice approaches to help developers engage with communities and ensure the least possible environmental and social impacts of their proposals.

Controversy reigned when the three outstanding proposals in Greater Shepparton — at Tallygaroopna, Lemnos and Tatura East — were approved without the amendment being finalised.

In addition to implementing the guideline, the amendment also brings permit assessment for solar facilities in line with large-scale wind farms, where the Minister for Planning is the responsible authority.

This consolidated approach will reduce the administrative burden on councils and provide consistent decision making across the state.

The guidelines and the planning scheme amendment information is available at: guidelines