Solar future bright despite protest

Nicolette BarbasHarvey-Waroona Reporter

Plans for a $200 million solar farm in Benger have been given the go ahead following a decision at last week’s council meeting, despite strong opposition from a concerned neighbour.

Peter Humble, whose kitchen window is just 300m from the proposal, said he was disappointed with the council’s decision.

“None of the councillors seemed to have a good grasp of the issues we’re presenting,” he said.

“There hasn’t been any coherent explanation by anybody, including the proponents, of how exactly this farm system is going to work, and that’s a huge concern.”

“If this project goes ahead it is going to be a nightmare for us, but a nightmare is better because you wake up and you realise it’s all over.”

South Energy project manager Baifulaqi Du said he met with Mr Humble twice earlier in the year to discuss the project.

“Mr Humble was among the first neighbour we visited prior to the community engagement drop-in session which took place in Brunswick the next day,” Mr Du said.

“We went through every page of the documents and left our details for him to get back to us if he had any further questions.”

Mr Humble believed the project would not result in the creation of local jobs.

“This is highly specialised technical stuff, South Energy will have their own people lined up to do this work.”

However, Mr Du claimed that only a handful of staff would come direct from South Energy.

“During construction of the proposed solar farm, at least 250 jobs will be created for local people directly working on this project.

“As well as this, South Energy will be hiring local people to look after the solar farm on a daily basis as this is our preferred option, and training can be provided for this.”

Harvey shire president Paul Gillett said the project would create six permanent jobs.

“With the influx of contractors and other workers, Benger and its surrounding districts will see opportunities for commercial expansion,” Cr Gillett said.

“This is a $200 million investment into the region, creating further economic opportunities and it is a fantastic development for the shire of Harvey.”

The council’s recommendation will go to the Southern Joint Development Assessment Panel which will make the final decision.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails