The University of England will build a solar farm on its adjacent property

RENEWABLE: Armidale Regional Council mayor Simon Murray was on the development application panel for the solar farm.
RENEWABLE: Armidale Regional Council mayor Simon Murray was on the development application panel for the solar farm.

A solar farm to be built at the University of New England finally has the go ahead.

First announced in 2016, the project ran into trouble with the development application lodged in September 2017.

It was previously costed at $6.6 million.

The solar farm is expected to reduce carbon emissions by up to 5000 tonnes per year, equivalent to taking 1000 cars off the road, a university spokeswoman said.

“Having access to renewable energy generation will provide cheaper energy and allow UNE to direct the savings realised towards teaching and research,” she said.

Once finished, the solar farm should power 50 per cent of the university.

But, not everyone is pleased about the development.

Environmental scientist Brian Wilson owns one of the properties neighbouring the solar farm.

“There are many errors of fact, our property and the adjoining property were completely omitted from the report,” Mr Wilson said.

“The plan that we’ve seen for the screen plantings, they contain three options with exotic tree species. They should of course all be native.

“There’s no indication in the report that they would consult with the residents themselves.”

The solar farm is expected to deliver $7 million in savings to the university within ten years.

A Joint Regional Planning Panel made the decision on Wednesday, with Simon Murray and Diane Gray representing Armidale Regional Council.

Koala feed trees will need to be removed, but for each tree removed five others will be planted.

Cr Murray said he would like to consider the potential of the site as a tourist destination.

“I’ve been to the solar farm at Alice Springs and it’s actually used as a tourist attraction, they have all the signposts there,” he said.

“There’s another part of the population that might like to see it.” 

The solar farm was approved unanimously.

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