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The MidWest / Wheatbelt Joint Development Assessment Panel (JDAP) approved the Carnegie Clean Energy Limited development application 5-0 on June 15, for its $16 million dollar solar power station in Northam.
The project will be developed on 131 Northam-York Road, Muluckine, and will be owned, built and operated by the company for at least the next 25 years, to produce and sell power.
The MidWest / Wheatbelt Joint Development Assessment Panel (JDAP) approved the Carnegie Clean Energy Limited development application on June 15, for its $16m solar power station in Northam.
The project will be developed on 131 Northam-York Road, Muluckine, and will be owned, built and operated by the company for at least the next 25 years to produce and sell power.
The solar plant will consist of approximately 36,000 solar panels covering 35 hectares of land, on a site which is 266 hectares in total.
A company statement said the energy will effectively power 3,800 households and displace 17,000 tonnes per year of greenhouse gas emissions, which is the equivalent of taking 3,500 cars off the road.
During the meeting, Northam resident Brent Annels raised concerns with the proposed development being built on that specific site in Muluckine.
Mr Annels said he was worried about the possibility of glare and the impact the development would have on visual amenity.
He added that a rural zone must protect agricultural land and preserve the landscape and character of the area.
I think it's a good addition to the infrastructure in Northam
Private consultant Barry Shephard, hired by Carnegie Clean Energy to undertake an environmental assessment of the development, said glare will not be an issue due to the angles of the panels and the way they lie across the land.
He said during operations, the panels are “virtually inaudible”.
Carnegie project development manager Ray Hart said the group is happy with the outcome of the JDAP meeting.
“We are very excited about getting approval,” he said.
“It’s one of the many processes that had to be approved.”
He said the group had consulted with the public and held a consultation at the Riverside Hotel to receive community feedback.
When asked if glare would be an issue, Mr Hart referred to what Dr Barry Shepherd said in the JDAP meeting.
Glare is of little concern
“Panels by nature absorb the sun's rays,” he said.
“Glare is of little concern.”
Mr Hart said he had met with a nearby neighbour three times, who was worried about the visual impact of the development and as a result, will be landscaping between the residents property and the development.
“We are doing whatever we can to minimise the impact,” he said.
Mr Hart said there will be employment opportunities for local people in the construction phase.
“Our partner will have intent to look for local resource,” he said.
Northam Shire president Steven Pollard said it is a positive for the region.
“I think it's a good addition to the infrastructure in Northam,” he said.
“It’s a welcome addition to the power infrastructure in the area.”
Carnegie is working with various stakeholders, including Western Power, to secure final approvals over the next month or so.
When that is complete, construction will commence which is estimated to take six months.
Carnegie’s managing director Dr Michael Ottaviano said this is the next step in the evolution of energy.
“The ability to add utility scale battery storage is a new product offering we will integrate into our own solar farms and also to other developers of utility scale solar farms as the technology costs continue to decline in the coming years,” he said.
“Carnegie is planning on replicating this approach across Australia.”