Dubbo Regional Council and solar farms to enter planning agreement

Councillor David Grant.
Councillor David Grant.

Solar farms in the local government area will pay Dubbo Regional Council thousands of dollars per megawatt of generated energy.

Council wants to implement a planning agreement with solar farms in the LGA. Under the agreement, solar farms would pay at least $3500 per MW to council.

In a report on the policy, council's manager growth planning Steven Jennings said the policy was designed to benefit the community.

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"The purpose of this policy is not to be a 'one stop shop' for all impacts associated with solar energy farm developments. The policy is primarily concerned with offsite and other impacts, including social and economic impacts on Wellington," he said.

The arrangement would be similar to the planning agreement between council and Bodangora Wind Farm. In 2018/19, the Bodangora Wind Farm Community Benefit Fund gave $25,000 to local, not-for-profit community groups.

There are six new solar farms currently planned for Wellington, including the 300MW Wellington North Solar Plant.

If approved, the plant would provide enough energy to power about 98,000 homes.

Council estimates if the six projects were all constructed across the next two or three years, there would be more than 1250 construction workers needed. To accommodate that workforce would require another 345 houses in Wellington.

The construction will also lead to additional cars and trucks using the roads.

Dubbo Regional councillor David Grant said if only one to two per cent of the value of the developments were invested back into council, it would equate to $13 to $26 million for the community.

The funds from the planning proposal will not be used for road infrastructure or rehabilitating the site once the development is decommissioned.

In October, council will decide if a community consultation group should be established to determine what is done with the money.