(28/9/2018) Solar Farm business plan approved
The proposed solar farm on the former South Fremantle landfill site has overcome another hurdle, with Fremantle Council approving the business plan for the project.
To facilitate the project the City of Fremantle plans to lease the land at the site to Australian renewable energy company Epuron.
The Local Government Act requires councils to prepare and advertise a business plan whenever they undertake a commercial enterprise like a major land transaction.
The proposed lease outlined in the business plan includes a 25 year term at $1 per year, with the option to extend for a further 15 years.
It also provides for rent reviews every three years to allow the City to increase the rent if the solar farm starts to make a commercial return.
Acting Mayor Ingrid Waltham said while the approval of the business plan brings the City a step closer to achieving its preference for locally-sourced green power, the lease with Epuron will not be executed until all of the environmental approvals for the project are achieved.
“The site currently generates no income for the City, and the environmental constraints mean any permanent development is not feasible for many years,” Acting Mayor Waltham said.
“Leasing the land at a peppercorn rate will allow the land to have some use, with no change to the City’s financial obligations.
“The idea of developing a solar farm was endorsed by the council in 2013 on the basis that the solar panel structures could be positioned above the surface of the soil and require little or no excavation or disturbance of what is a contaminated site.
“However, the council has been very clear that we will not let this development proceed unless we are satisfied it is safe to do so. The community’s safety is our absolute priority.
“The lease states that Epuron will be responsible for fulfilling all the environmental conditions relating to the project, and the lease can’t be signed without the approval of the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation.”
The solar farm is a key component towards the City achieving its One Planet Strategy target of being powered by 100 per cent renewable energy by 2025.
It will cover approximately 8 hectares of the 19.4 hectare landfill site on Cockburn Road and produce up to 4.9 megawatts of power.
The City of Fremantle has been investigating land use and management options for the site since 1985.
Following an Expression of Interest process the City signed an exclusive working agreement with Epuron in 2015. Epuron submitted a development application for the project in January this year.
Planning approval for the project was granted by the City in April, but there are a number of conditions that must be satisfied prior to development commencing.
This includes the preparation of a Site Management Plan, which must be reviewed and approved by an independent contaminated sites auditor.