New planning and community engagement guidelines are in development to guide Queensland’s solar farm boom, says the Queensland state government. Natural Resources, Mines and Energy Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said with 17 large-scale solar farms under construction across the state and another 40-plus potentials, specific planning guidelines were needed.
“We are becoming the solar energy state. In just the past 16 months, five new solar projects have started operating at Barcaldine, Kidston, Lakeland, Normanton and Sunshine Coast. Another 17 are under construction, offering more than 1200 megawatts of renewable energy and more than 2500 construction jobs. Large scale solar brings jobs and economic benefits for communities, but they can also bring their own set of planning challenges.
“The right planning guidelines need to be in place to ensure communities, developers, councils and investors are all on the same page about what is best for Queensland,” Lynham said.
The new guidelines will inform and guide stakeholders, including local government, through the project development process, and ensure that projects meet their social licence to operate.
According to the Queensland Government, its officers have been working with local government, the Queensland Farmers Federation and other stakeholders to develop the new guidelines.
Community forums will kick off from mid-April to provide information about the guidelines in the solar hot spots of Townsville, Dalby, Emerald, Mackay and Bundaberg. State government planning and energy policy experts will be on hand to answer questions about the proposed guidelines, as well as solar farms and renewable energy in general.