Are we there yet? Not quite. But Byron Shire Council’s proposed solar farm project for Myocum just moved another step closer.
For such a comparatively small utility-scale solar farm, the project has had quite a journey to date. Back in 2019, the Council resolved to allocate some bucks to progress the proposed 5MW facility at 1 Dingo Lane Myocum to detailed feasibility and procurement phase. Community engagement in relation to the project kicked off late that year. Then in May 2020, the Council tapped five companies to progress to the design and construction documentation stage.
A development application for the construction of the solar farm was finally submitted by the Council in March 2022 for determination by the Northern Regional Planning Panel. That decision was made by the Panel on Monday, and it was a thumbs-up (with some conditions).
The panel noted:
The proposal’s environmental impacts will be largely positive. It will produce electricity from a renewable non‐polluting source, does not involve removal of native vegetation and will be concealed by landscape screening. No areas of biodiversity value will be affected and potential disturbance to Aboriginal cultural heritage items will be managed through the presence of on‐site monitors during construction.”
In terms of objections raised during the determination process, they were the usual suspects:
- Visual and glare impacts
- Consistency with zone objectives including loss of important farmland
- Impact on property values and tourist economy
The Panel said raised concerns have been adequately addressed.
Solar Farm Would Be “A Great Win”
Byron Shire Mayor Michael Lyon said the Council was excited about NRPP approval, as it’s another step towards delivering a local renewable energy solution that will slash the Council’s electricity-related carbon emissions. But NRPP approval for the proposed Dingo Lane PV power station is just another step – not the final one.
“The next step is for Council to review what is the best course for delivery of this climate mitigation project and decide how best it should proceed,” stated Mayor Lyon. We will report back to the community with updates on this.
Earlier this year, Byron Shire Council achieved a goal to source 100% of its operational energy from renewable sources via an agreement involving the Collector Wind Farm in New South Wales and certified GreenPower projects. The organization had previously committed to sourcing equivalent of 100% of its electricity needs from renewables by 2027; so it reached the goal five years early. But the wind energy contract is only for (an initial) two years.
“Once built, this 5 megawatt solar farm would help us maintain our 100% renewable energy commitment, and provide a long term and reliable source of electricity for Council operations, and hopefully other local businesses too,” said Mayor Lyon.
The proposed Myocum project aside, Byron Shire Council has installed more than 600kW of small-scale rooftop and ground mounted solar power capacity across a range of its assets.
As you’d expect, solar energy has been pretty popular across the Byron Shire community generally. In March 2019 an estimated 34.2% of free-standing and semi-detached dwellings had solar panel installations. By September this year that had grown to approximately 48% (Source: APVI). Byron Shire continues to punch well above its weight on PV – the NSW average is around 28.8%.
Solar panels in Byron Bay itself are everywhere. Across the 2481 postcode, which is shared by Byron Bay, Myocum and several other localities, more than 2,876 small-scale systems had been installed with a collective capacity of 18,285 kW as of the end of October this year.