11 August 2022

New solar farm could contribute $1.2m to Bungendore community facilities

| Claire Fenwicke
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A draft planning agreement has been put forward for community feedback on the Blind Creek Solar Farm near Bungendore. Photo: Blind Creek Solar Farm.

The draft planning agreement for the Blind Creek Solar Farm has been placed on public exhibition, with the potential to deliver $1.235 million to Bungendore projects over 20 years.

The new proposal was for a 350 megawatt solar energy farm with an estimated construction cost of $350 million, not including any associated battery substations which could cost between $50 and $100 million.

The planning agreement was discussed at a recent Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council meeting.

Councillor Katrina Willis urged her counterparts to put the draft document to the public, saying there were “constraints” on how much monetary benefit could be gained from such developments and so council should take the chance to benefit the community.

“In this case the proposal would provide benefit to the Bungendore community immediately adjacent to the site for the solar farm,” she said.

“Importantly the plan is that the solar farm would revert potentially to farming, which it is currently used for, at the end of its life.”

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The solar farm was expected to operate for about 30 years before being decommissioned.

Councillor John Preston felt councillors should “enthusiastically welcome sensible developments” such as this one.

“[It will] assist us with our aspirations [for the community] … and also for a cleaner, greener local government area,” he said.

He described a council workshop where the company behind the farm outlined “a raft of community benefits” it would help fund.

“Including, but not limited to, an Indigenous education facility as well as a swimming pool and various other things,” Cr Preston said.

Location of the proposed Blind Creek Solar Farm. Photo: QPRC.

According to council documents, the funds from the planning agreement would be used to install, maintain and operate a pool at Bungendore, and install, maintain and operate other facilities within the Bungendore Sports Hub precinct.

An initial capital contribution of $250,000 would be made for construction, and an additional annual payment of $49,250 (adjusted by the producer price index) each year for another 20 years.

The Blind Creek Solar Farm evolved from the Capital Solar Farm, which was approved by NSW Planning in 2013 and was located on land adjacent to Tarago Road.

It was announced in late March, 2022, that a joint venture between Octopus Australia and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation would develop and deliver the project.

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Council documents stated the current project had been moved to a “larger but more suitable location” which had an increased buffer from neighbouring properties.

The proposed new project was in the vicinity of the Canberra Sand and Gravel quarry and the neighbouring Capital Wind Farm.

The community was invited to submit their views on the draft planning agreement by completing a survey by Thursday, 25 August.

You could also have your say by emailing [email protected] with the subject line “Blind Creek Solar Farm Planning Agreement”.

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Jonathon Throsby4:00 pm 12 Aug 22

These developments are important for the future of this planet. The fact that it is being located in a low yield farming wasteland, now with possibility of parallel grazing increasing DSE yields and far enough away from any neighbouring housing development makes it ideal. One would hope that it is able to piggy back on exciting grid infrastructure from the adjacent wind farms .

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