Opinion

Correct solar verdict vital

By Shepparton News

It’s hardly surprising that many are keenly awaiting decisions on four major solar farm developments proposed for Greater Shepparton.

For one, these mark exciting projects in an emerging industry that this region has the potential to be at the forefront of.

Given the divisive nature of the energy debate at both the state and federal levels, one that has seen deep divisions between the Victorian and federal governments, and even within the federal cabinet.

It was, after all, a catalyst for last month’s leadership crisis that saw Malcolm Turnbull replaced by Scott Morrison.

It is also pleasing that the city has the potential to be on the front foot in what appears to be a growing need for cities to be surging towards a position where sustainability is more necessary than ever.

And the more we can look at ways to generate our own energy, the better.

There’s other factors in why these decisions are so highly anticipated.

For one, they mark hundreds and millions of dollars worth of investment in the region. They mark plenty of construction jobs. And the potential to boost energy reliability locally.

For many local orchardists, irrigators, local representatives though, there’s also anticipation in regard to what the approach is in regard to protecting prime irrigated land.

It is pleasing that this remains a factor in decisions, as indicated by  Victoria’s Planning Minister in parliament this week.

But on an even broader scale, there is likely to be those from other regions of the state awaiting a framework on how solar developments are set to be approached going forward.

One of the big issues locally has been reconciling the interests of protecting agricultural land and embracing a push towards renewables.

We hope there’s some clear guidance handed down on this. The local council has also flagged some guidelines on buffers for developments would be helpful.

All of these factors indicate there’s plenty riding on these decisions. And even more importantly, perhaps, the state guidelines set to be handed down as a result of them. So it’s important they are correct.

Is there anticipation? Sure.

And from indications, decisions on these four projects isn’t far away.

But the hurry shouldn’t be so much that it compromises the outcome of the decisions or this framework.