The approval of the New England Solar Farm is an important milestone in the development of this exciting project that will bring jobs to Uralla and the regional economy while helping to support the security of NSW’s energy supply into the future.
The 720 megawatt (MW) solar farm and up to 400MWh battery project was granted approval by the NSW Independent Planning Commission (IPC) after more than two years of detailed planning, assessment and community engagement.
It follows the recommendation for approval by the NSW Department of Planning, Industry, and Environment in late December 2019.
The project will be developed and operated by renewable energy developer UPC\AC Renewables Australia. UPC\AC Renewables Australia has been operating in Australia since 2016 with a number of wind, solar, battery and pumped hydro projects in development in NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania.
The solar farm will generate enough clean, renewable energy to power 250,000 homes, create up to 700 full time jobs during construction, provide work for local businesses and suppliers and diversify income for rural landowners.
It is being proposed across two solar fields on 2,000 hectares of mostly cleared grazing land, about six kilometres east of Uralla, in the New England region of NSW.
The region has been identified as a suitable area for renewable energy development by the NSW Government, the Australian Energy Market Operator and electricity transmission company TransGrid.
UPC/AC Renewables Australia Head of Solar Development Killian Wentrup said construction on the project would likely begin towards the middle of the year.
“There has been very close involvement from the local community with the development of the project for the past two years,” Mr Wentrup said.
“We want to thank the Uralla community for the ongoing feedback and support received for the project during its development phase.
“We are now very focused on setting up our Community Reference Group to help us establish our community benefit sharing initiative in time for the commencement of the project construction phase.
“We’re also hoping to finalise our grid connection, project finance and contracting arrangements over the coming months so that we can begin construction by the middle of the year.”
The NSW IPC concluded that the solar farm was in the public interest. It found that the agricultural capability of the land would not be impacted by the development and that it would not have significant visual impact.
The 720 MW project will be built in two stages and take around three years to complete in full. “We look forward to continue working closely with the local community and regional stakeholders during the construction and operation of the solar farm for many years to come,” Mr Wentrup said.
Read the full IPC decision report.
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