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Sunshine Coast solar park given green light

6th Jul 2011

A new solar farm planned for the Sunshine Coast community of Valdora could see up to 2,500 new homes in the area powered by solar energy.

The Sunshine Coast Council voted unanimously for the construction of the solar farm at its ordinary meeting last week.

It asserts that the solar farm - which will be built on land which was previously used for broad acre sugarcane farming - is set to play an important step in the council's Energy Transition Plan, which lays out plans for the region to be the low-carbon capital of Queensland by 2020.

According to the local authority, the new Valdora solar farm would have the potential to generate up to ten megawatts of solar power and has an important role to play in developing alternative energy sources on the coast.

The council has given that year as its deadline to become completely carbon-neutral, with up to 40 megawatts of renewable energy produced on the Sunshine Coast by 2015.

Other eco-friendly efforts undertaken by the council in recent months include greater take-up of rooftop solar photovoltaic panels - which are being installed on buildings including visitor centres and libraries - as well as increased use of renewable fuels and energy efficient buildings.

The council's Energy Transition Plan also outlines a strategy for sustained transport and energy audits are being carried out on many existing council buildings.

In recent months, the council has also made significant inroads when it comes to making it easier for local homeowners to install solar panels on their properties.

The Sunshine Coast Council's director of development services Julie Edwards remarked in May that the organisation is working to eliminate "unnecessary costs or planning hurdles" for people looking to generate renewable energy on a small scale.

Individuals installing a roof-mounted solar system on existing buildings no longer need to seek planning approval, she said.

"We are making sure that it is as straightforward as possible to get small solar installations while still ensuring that the region's high town planning standards continue to be met," she said.

Individuals planning other renewable energy projects, including solar panels mounted on the ground, will still need to consult the council to find out whether or not planning permission is required. Large projects - or any plans that could impact on the community or local area - will still require permission from the local authority.

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