Simon Corbell, ACT environment minister recently implied that the plans for the ACT Solar Farm are facing a number of changes. This might be the government’s reaction to the way Uriarra residents have responded towards the project.
The proposed 7 MW project is supposed to be built at Uriarra, west of Canberra. It was reported in August, 2014 that the ACT government was inundated by objections to the solar power farm from the residents of Uriarra.
The residents thought that it was too near the town centre and requested for it to be transferred somewhere outside their line of site. Construction of this facility was to be undertaken by Elementus Energy, which won the tender under the ACT’s solar auction program.
Among those who objected to the $17 million solar power farm project is federal Labour MP Gai Brodtmann. He said that the solar power farm would damage the character and appeal of the village, blocks views, and might depress house prices.
John White, an Uriarra resident who is in favour of the project, said: “Quite frankly, as the village is advertised as being a sustainable eco village, I do not understand the other resident views for not supporting such a wonderful opportunity the village could have gained by this solar power farm.”
But Bradman is unperturbed. “It should have been obvious to any developer that a development of this scale, at such close proximity to a rural village, would be contentious.” She is demanding that the solar power farm be “pushed back” 500 metres.
Uriarra residents solar power farm demands
One paper reported that residents referred to the solar power farm as an “industrial power plant”, and raised concerns about its security fencing and some other issues.
The tender for this solar power farm project attracted 122 submissions, with only six in favour. There has been a great delay in the implementation of this project which has been mothballed for the last two years. It was supposed to supply solar energy power to the Uriarra residents.
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However, it was reported in Canberra Times that on the last week of February, 2015, Minister Corbell was quoted as saying that the government was at an “important point” in negotiations with the developer. This is just ahead of the decision to continue with the project in March this year.
“I’m not in a position to make further announcements about that at this time but I am seeing positive steps to resolve the concerns that residents have at Uriarra,” says Corbell.
Elementus Energy mediation
“The developer has indicated to the government that they are willing to revisit the issues of concern to the residents. We welcome that and are looking forward to seeing the outcome,” he adds.
On its part, Ashleigh Antflick of solar power farm developer Elementus Energy stated that he was working hard for “an outcome that will be satisfactory for everybody.”
According to Antlfick, once Elementus Energy had secured development approval, the array could supply solar energy in six to nine months. Antflick says that he is not seeking any compensation or a contribution from the government for any change in location or modification on the project.