Despite their officers’ recommendation for approval, yesterday Corangamite Shire Councillors denied planning permission for Bookaar Solar Farm, the solar PV development proposal of up to 200MW at Meningoort near Camperdown.

Ignoring the professional advice of the planners and referral agencies, Councillors sided with a small but vocal minority of residents, and voted to withhold planning consent.

Spokesman for the project Richard Seymour commented: “This is a tremendous disappointment. Councillors have gone against their own Planning Department’s professional recommendation, mainly driven by a concern about the alleged loss of agricultural land. As we have explained all along, Bookaar Solar Farm is a temporary structure and it would only take 0.2% of available agricultural land in Corangamite Shire. It would have brought $150m of investment to the Shire, generating 150 construction jobs and up to 12 full time jobs – it is clear that local people have hugely missed out.”

Mr Seymour continued: “We would like to thank all of our supporters and those who have participated in constructive consultation. We will now go back to the drawing board to consider our options. This is a very good project and it is worth fighting for.”