Solar project adds to city's green credentials

Date published: 30 November 2016

A renewable energy facility capable of generating enough electricity to power 55,000 homes received the green light by Townsville City Council’s Planning and Development Committee yesterday.

The decision, which will need to be ratified by full council when it meets on December 13, approves an application for a solar farm on 185 hectares of disused sugar plantation at Hencamp Creek Road in Rollingstone.

Planning committee chairman Cr Les Walker said council’s approval was subject to extensive conditions in consultation with Powerlink Queensland and following a public notification and consultation period in which no submissions were received.

Cr Walker said the proposal by Esco Pacific, represented a positive move into renewable energy for the region.

The approval follows a similar application for a solar farm at the Pinnacles, which was approved in June.

“Townsville’s potential for renewable energy from the sun is largely untapped and given our status as a sunshine city, we are perfectly positioned for this type of industry,” Cr Walker said.

“Importantly, the feeling from the local Rollingstone community is that they are geared for change and this type of clean, green industry will provide benefits not just to the local community in terms of jobs and investment but also longer term for Australia’s sustainability credentials.

“The project will create 130 jobs during construction and four full-time and eight part-time jobs during its operation.

“Renewable energy is the way of the future and it’s important Townsville, as a regional capital for the North, is supporting opportunities for the industry in suitable locations.”

The proposal will operate on a 30 year lease and will consist of around 400,000 photovoltaic panels.

“This is a well located site on a large rural piece of land and has the backing of Esco Pacific, a leading developer of utility scale solar farms in Australia.