A 720-MW solar project in New South Wales by UPC Renewables Australia Pty Ltd has secured approval with conditions from the state’s Independent Planning Commission, it was announced on Monday.
The New England Solar Farm will have more than 2.4 million photovoltaic (PV) panels, installed near Uralla. The total investment in the project is estimated at AUD 768 million (USD 507.4m/EUR 446.7m).
The planning commission’s determination on the solar project and the related state significant development (SSD) application was sought because it faced 67 public objections after it was presented to the local community. The commission has now concluded that the project is in the public interest and has given the thumbs-up to the SSD application, subject to conditions. Under these, the applicant will have to prepare a Traffic Management Plan for the solar farm in consultation with Roads and Maritime Services and Uralla Shire Council, and a Decommissioning and Rehabilitation Plan within three years of the start of operations. It will also have to make vegetation screening available to an impacted adjoining resident.
The commission has agreed with the Department of Planning, Industry & Environment that the exclusion zones proposed by the developer and the implementation of the recommended conditions would ensure there are “no significant visual impacts” on surrounding residences, and that the “rural character and visual quality of the area would be preserved as far as practicable”.
AC Energy, a unit of the Philippines’ Ayala Corp (PSE:AC), owns 50% in project developer UPC Renewables.