Council split, but solar farm decision final
ONE hundred jobs.
Power for 27,000 homes.
Reduced carbon emissions by 135,000 tonnes every year.
Millions of dollars in infrastructure.
Work to construct the 300 acre Warwick Solar Farm is expected to commence later this year after a controversial development application was approved today.
It will bring 100 jobs to Warwick during construction and several on-going positions.
But not all were in favour of the decision when councillors gathered at a special meeting to decide on the controversial application this afternoon.
After months of protest from the Warwick community, 47 letters of objection, and a public meeting full of opposition, five of the nine local government representatives said "yes" to the controversial development, but four objected.
Cr Vic Pennisi said he was concerned the council did not have enough information to make an informed decision. "The long-term effects on the environment are not known," Cr Pennisi said.
"We don't know some of this stuff and at the end of the day we are compromising some of the best agricultural land in Australia, not just here, Australia."
But deputy mayor Jo McNally was in favour.
"Our planning scheme should be an instrument that facilitates and not hinders development," Cr McNally said.
The multi-million-dollar solar farm will transform what has been labelled "the gateway to the Southern Downs".
The saga over 300 acres of pristine agricultural land in Sladevale began in late February, when Mt Tabor residents received a letter notifying them of the proposed $100 million solar farm to be built in the Freestone Valley below.
But anticipation can now be put to rest with the final decision from council made.
Terrain Solar director Simon Ingram said Warwick was the perfect place for a renewable energy plant due to its temperate climates and high solar levels.
"The energy will be exported into Australia's national grid which will put downward pressure on wholesale electricity prices," Mr Ingram said.
But despite the green light, it's not all clear skies for the Australian-owned solar developer Terrain Solar.
The long list of concerns professed by members of the community have been addressed in the 37 conditions imposed on the development.
Among the conditions are a 200 meter buffer zone with natural vegetation and a maximum lifespan of 25 years.
The council has also stipulated that solar panel coverage must not exceed 30 per cent.
Further conditions require grass cover to be maintained and stock to be grazed on the land where the solar farm is located.
While the news will devastate those with concerns for their land values and million-dollar views, others are glad to see the development going ahead.
But those who don't agree with the decision will have no course to appeal the approval.
"There are no third party appeal rights to the decision the council is about to make," town planner Melissa Vouros said ahead of today's meeting.