The Queensland Government has released its new Queensland Solar Farm Guidelines.
Queensland Energy Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said the new guidelines respond to calls from regional communities and industry for certainty.
“These guidelines are a clear checklist for local governments about what’s needed for sustainable, community and industry-led large-scale solar development,” Dr Lynham said.
“In the the past three years, Queensland has seen an unprecedented wave of renewable energy investment with the construction of 13 large-scale solar projects from Lakeland in the Far North to Dalby in the south west.
“This has brought $1.3 billion in investment and almost 1500 construction jobs to Queensland, and more than 650MW of renewable energy to the grid.
“And the good news is there’s more to come, with another 16 solar projects on the way bringing $3.4 billion dollars and 2600 jobs to regional and rural locations right across the state.”
The announcement was made at Rise Energy’s 100MW Yarranlea solar farm, near Toowoomba, which is currently under construction.
Risen Energy project development and investment director John Zhong said the company supported the state government’s initiative in developing the guidelines.
“Risen Energy Australia has assembled an experienced development team with strong power industry backgrounds and have been able to provide a practical review aiding the development of the guidelines,” Mr Zhong said.
“Risen’s future developments will address and accord with the guidelines, providing a roadmap for the engagement of the communities potentially impacted by development of Risen Energy projects.”
For traditional owners, communities and landholders, the guidelines outline approval processes, technical and environmental considerations, ways to give feedback, information on the stages of solar development and what a new solar project can mean for a community.
For industry, the guidelines provide a one-stop-shop guide on navigating government development approvals, expectations about best practice to engage the local community, location guidance and the legal framework that governs solar farm developments.
“We are rapidly becoming the solar state but we must ensure these projects are also compatible with the interests of Queenslanders whose communities are their sites,” Dr Lynham said.
Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning Cameron Dick said the guidelines would assist local government to support the growing renewable energy industry.
“The guidelines support Queensland local governments to plan and regulate proposed solar farm development appropriately, to ensure potential impacts are balanced against the jobs and economic activity they may bring,” Mr Dick said.
“Local government will remain as the assessment manager for solar farm development applications, but the state government will continue to work with councils to ensure the guidelines are effective and where needed, provide additional support.”