A Preliminary Environmental Assessment (PEA) has been lodged with the NSW Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) for the project.
Due to the value of the project it has been deemed a State Significant Development and as such the approvals process will be conduced by the DPE, rather than Bathurst Regional Council.
A DPE spokeswoman said the first step in the process was Photon Energy’s request for a Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements (SEARs), which has now been received.
“The proposal is for a 131 megawatt solar farm that would be located about 12 kilometres south east of Bathurst,” she said.
“The Department has sought input into the SEARs from relevant regulatory agencies and Bathurst Regional Council, and will issue the SEARs shortly.”
A letter to the editor in Saturday’s Weekend Advocate outlined concerns about the solar farm from a group of Brewongle residents, including that Photon had not engaged in true consultation about the project.
But, Photon Energy business development manager Robert Ibrahim said: “We’ve had more people in support [of the solar farm] than against it.”
While a community consultation session organised by Photon Energy at Raglan on September 6 attracted an angry crowd, he said not all were against the power plant.
“We’ve had some really good support from the local community,” Mr Ibrahim said. “They think it’s a great idea and they want to know more.”
Mr Ibrahim said “a lot of it’s [the negative feedback] not understanding what we’re doing and what the solar farm is.”
Photon Energy must prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to support its development application, which will be made publicly available so the community can provide submissions on it.
Following a public exhibition period, Photon Energy will be required to respond to any matters raised in submissions.
“The Department will then complete a comprehensive assessment of the proposal and a determination will be made,” the DPE spokeswoman said.
Track the project online with the NSW Department of Planning and Environment.