Not All Sunshine For QLD 1,500MW Solar + 500MW Storage Project

Sunshine Energy solar farm
Image: Glen Butcher

An “early groundbreaking ceremony” for a huge solar power and battery storage facility in Queensland was accompanied by very little fanfare – and probably for good reason.

The Sunshine Energy project is to be constructed on a number of parcels of land located between Harlin and Kilcoy in south-east Queensland. The development application was given the go-ahead by Queensland’s Somerset Council in November last year.

The 1,500MW solar energy facility, which is to be built in two stages, may wind up even larger with  a subsequent stage as there’s provision to expand it to 2GW.

The early groundbreaking ceremony was held last week. Missing was the usual media coverage for what will be such a significant project, both for the area and the state. The image above from the event was sourced from Assistant Treasurer Glenn Butcher’s Twitter account. And that was about it. There was no formal announcement from the Queensland Government and nothing from Sunshine Energy.

Perhaps a reason for the low-key event was legal wrangling associated with the development.

Local land owner Anthony Crombie is taking Somerset Council and Sunshine Energy Australia  to the Planning and Environment Court in an attempt to see the approval rescinded. 

Around 4 months ago, Mr. Crombie also launched a petition regarding the project, stating the development will render the rural landscape “unrecognisable”. The petition’s aim was to pressure Council to refuse the development or request a substantially reduced capacity – a suggested 200MW. Over the 4 months since the petition was launched, 242 had signed it.

A Laundry List Of Grievances

A notice of appeal filed with the Planning and Environment Court in January cites dozens of reasons why the development application approval should be retracted, mostly in relation to claimed conflicts with provisions of Somerset Regional Planning Scheme Version 3.

Among them, it’s claimed the development:

  • does not maintain and enhance the scenic amenity and landscape values of the Somerset Region.
  • will have negative environmental impact associated with traffic.
  • will result in loss, fragmentation alienation and a diminished capacity of agricultural land.
  • will results in a material increase in the extent or severity of bushfire hazard.
  • cannot ensure the site can be rehabilitated after the use has been decommissioned.

You can follow the case as it goes through the Planning and Environment Court system here.

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.


  1. Corinne Annetts says

    We are seeing the same ridiculous project here in NSW from developer UPC RENEWABLES and their New England Solar Farm, eating up prime agriculture land on an aquifer it is irresponsible practices wrong place for such a large scale solar farm

  2. Richard Courtenay says

    I frequently drive between Maleny and Gatton or Toowoomba. One of the features of that drive is that I see little agricultural activity due to the fact that rainfall is very intermittent. At present it is like the Gobi desert. If I owned land there I’d be happy to have a fixed income from a solar farm using the source of my inability to have a constant sustainable income. What must Asian visitors think when they see thousands of hectares of unused land.

  3. John Morrison says

    I don’t think it’s right global warming is a multi billion dollar cash cow.. & solar farms remove grazing, farming land and trees 1000’s of acres to put in millions of black/very very hot panels to produce minimal power with a 25yr life span .. the capital investment & loss of trees etc.. all for only 25yrs.. Someone is making billions outta these solar farms.. It’s all about greed & money & nothing at all about the environment or global warming ..which in my opinion is the biggest hoax ever

  4. John, half of me agrees with you but yhe other half says ” let them build their solar farms on marginal land so as the farmer still can use the productive land.
    Solar farms are short term and unless tied to batteries useless for 14 hours of the day. Batteries also are shory term with about 12 to 14 year life span.
    Climate change MAY still be a natural long term event as described by many scientists.

  5. There is a huge solar array farm on the Kilkevin Qld road (NW of Gympie) on prime agricultural land. Absolutely an eyesore !

    I have reliably assured the owner of the “grid” will not connect them.

    Is this correct ?

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