RIO Indygen Developments Pty Ltd ,developers of Solar Farms, are an Australian Company proposing to develop a large scale photovoltaic solar farm on Patons Road four kilometres south of Moruya. If approved Construction is expected to start in May 2019 and last for approximately 4 months The Bergalia Solar Farm, that will cover 42.15 hectares, includes the installation of approximately 30,488 solar panels (340 Wp) mounted in rows on tracker tables and approximately 4000 array posts with 12 inverters (2500 kvA) distributed over the site as well as on-site substations and site buildings. The developers, IndyGen Utility Ltd, describe themselves as a “downstream Solar PV project development vehicle. We are a vertically integrated manufacturer, developer, contractor owner and operator of a substantial portfolio of Solar PV assets. The business was established by renewable energy professionals in 2015, has offices located throughout the globe and have developed over 250MW of grid connected solar power plants.” In addition to the Bergalia site they are also looking at installations in Nana Glen , Emmaville , and Griffith In their Development Application RIO Indygen Developments say the proposed 10.365 MW Bergalia solar farm would be located on rural farmland currently used for grazing cattle. The projects website ( https://www.bergaliasolarfarm.com.au/ ) says that “This will generate 18,000-Megawatt Hours of clean, green electricity every year, that’s enough to power 3000 homes” The site comprises large paddocks which have been historically cleared and converted to exotic pasture. The property is used primarily for beef cattle grazing. A small number of paddock trees are present, sparsely scattered at the site, with small clusters on drainage lines and along the eastern boundary. Remnant riparian forest is present outside the proposed solar farm footprint to the west of the site along Candoin Creek.
Above: Photos overlooking the proposed site
Above: Location Plan as provided for the Development Application
But why on Patons Road? The developers offer that the proposed site was selected because it satisfies key suitability criteria, including low level environmental impact, adequate capacity in the local electricity network and location of substations, quality solar resources, availability of land for large scale development, good road access and low risks from natural hazards An existing Essential Energy powerline also passes through the site. Is it allowed to be built? The application documents currently on exhibition with Council state “State Environmental Planning Policy (Infrastructure) 2007 (ISEPP) provides that development for the purpose of a solar energy system may be carried out by any person with consent on any land (other than on land in a prescribed residential zone if the system has the capacity to generate more than 100kW). A ‘solar energy system’ includes a photovoltaic electricity generating system. The proposed solar farm would be located within a rural zone (RU1 Primary Production) and the construction, operation, upgrade and decommissioning of the solar farm may be carried out with development consent.” The Solar Farm is being proposed by RIO Indygen Developments Pty Ltd and the Development Application documents state that “the rent received by the landowners from the solar farm operator would provide a steady injection of money into the local economy over the life of the solar farm irrespective of other fluctuations that may otherwise influence the local economy.” The Bergalia Solar Farm that will cover 42.15 hectares proposal includes the installation of approximately 30,488 solar panels (340 Wp) mounted in rows on tracker tables and approximately 4000 array posts with 12 inverters (2500 kvA) distributed over the site as well as on-site substations and site buildings.
Image: Layout of DA 406-19 - Site Plan as provided for the Development Application
If approved wire mesh fencing will installed around the site would indicatively be 1.94 metres high, and total 5.3 km in length. Continuous security lighting (infra-red) and CCTV cameras would be installed on posts around the perimeter fence and on the main access track.
Image: Height profiles of panels and security fencing as provided for the Development Application The proponent is seeking approval to operate the solar farm for up to 30 years saying that after decommissioning all above ground components would be removed and the land would be restored to its former agricultural potential. The DA indicates that the proposed solar farm infrastructure layout has been located and designed to avoid and minimise environmental impacts saying that it has been developed in tandem with the environmental assessment to ensure potential impacts are avoided and minimised wherever possible. The DA documents state “A preliminary constraints analysis of the proposal site was used to help design the solar farm layout and plan the environmental assessment. Biodiversity features such as native forest patches and paddock trees have been excluded from the development footprint to minimise removal of native vegetation. The infrastructure layout and works have also been designed to comply with buffer and setback requirements related to Essential Energy infrastructure (Essential Energy 2017), bushfire protection (RFS guidelines) and riparian protection (Office of Water 2012).” “The final design would avoid areas of potential aboriginal heritage and include visual mitigation measures. Under the Regional Development process, Eurobodalla Council is responsible for assessing the development application and, depending on Council policy, managing the public exhibition of the application and assessment of submissions. Council also consults with State agencies in relation to development assessment requirements and approval conditions. As ‘Integrated Development’, Council would refer the proposal to State agencies to obtain general terms of approval for incorporation in the consent decision. Following submission of the Development Application to the Southern Joint Regional Planning Panel, there would be further opportunities for public consultation in the approval process. There are building concerns from the community as they discover that the development is on exhibition for public comment with submissions closing on Friday 5th April 2019 The application documents note that "There are approximately 80 uninvolved residences within two kilometres of the proposal site. The closest residence is approximately 90m to the north of the site" The application documents also state that the solar farm is not likely to adversely affect other land uses on land adjoining the site or in the vicinity of the site and that the proposed solar farm, as modelled and assessed, has no areas of high visual impact Opposition? That statement regarding having "no areas of high visual impact" is contrary to the backlash to the project. One objector told the Beagle "many of the local residents have lived in these properties for well over 20 years and as such have invested in an area where even subdivision has not been allowed by council therefore maintaining it as a pure rural area. "If residents have this industrial facility imposed in their quiet neighbourhood the stress may force them to sell and move, leaving them financially out of pocket due to the devaluation of their properties which several real estate agents have stated could be as high as 40%." "From an environmental perspective it is also being argued that the developers only carried out a night survey on the 30th and the 31 st of January 2019 the survey commenced at 9.15PM and finished at 9.45 PM a period of thirty minutes." Locals are asking “How can a conclusive thorough survey be carried out in two thirty minute period over two nights. There is no mention in their study of the pair of brown falcons that live in the canopy of a tree on the north east corner of the proposed site or the pair of wedge tail eagles that live in a tree on the edge of Candion Creek for the past 27 years . How will removing 36.4 HA of potential feeding ground affect these birds?” While the proposed Solar Farm might be allowed under the current and future zoning the questions that are being asked around the project are about the best use of what is valuable existing farming land that Eurobodalla does not have in great supply being turned into “industrial” land. One submission against the proposed project also notes “It would not appear to favour Moruya and the local community. The short construction period of such a specialised facility could not provide up-skilling of the local community or employment for any lengthy period.”
The community are invited to lodge a submission on the proposed project by Friday 5 April 2019
Proposal: Solar farm (electricity generating works)
Property: Lot 2 DP 752129, 115 Patons Road, Moruya
Applicant: Rio Indygen Development Pty Ltd: David Ashton
Application no.: 406/19
Reference no.: 84.0039.D
Exhibition period: 6 March 2019 to 5 April 2019
Enquiries: 4474 7444
The Development Application, plans, and associated documents may be inspected HERE Attribution: Much of the information regarding the project above was sourced directly from the application documents to ensure accuracy. The information is a precis with extracts and it is highly recommended that anyone making a submission refer to those documents to learn more of the detail, methodology and considerations.