Mid-Western Regional Council voted unanimously to adopt the revised Development Control Plan, which has been amended to specifically include solar energy farms.
In April the draft was recommended to council "following a substantial increase in development enquiries relating to solar energy farms within the region" and the lack of guidelines in place for solar energy farms. It was then publicly exhibited until late May, during which time eight submissions were received and minor modifications were made.
Among the matters raised during this period were that the proposed amendment was "too prescriptive", to which the response provided stated "the proposed DCP chapter for Solar Energy Farms is intended as a development guideline".
Furthermore, in addressing the concern that the DCP wouldn't apply to State Significant Development (SSD), the plan's role was confirmed as a way to "help NSW Department of Planning when determining applications to understand Council's expectations in relation to the development of Solar Energy Farms in the Region".
The submission responses said that one of the objectives is "to ensure both the positive and negative local impacts of any development are considered, and that development of one land use or industry is not at the expense of another land use or industry". Similarly, "in the case of larger solar energy proposals to be located on RU1 [primary production] or RU4 [primary production small lots] zoned land, the objectives of each zone must be addressed by any development application submitted".
However, no modification to setback requirements were included, because "it is recognised that there are a range of factors which will influence the suitability of a site for this form of development".
When the Post Exhibition Report was put to Council at their June meeting, Cr Peter Shelley said, "there needs to be some clarification regarding the amount of solar farm applications we are receiving through this council, and it just tidies up a few things and gives some guidelines to those who wish to carry out that sort of development".
The DCP, submissions and documents, can be viewed at Council's website.