Monday, December 9, 2013


Location:                      Emu Downs Farm, Bibby Road Badgingarra
Applicant:                      Masterplan on behalf of APA Group
Folder Path:                   Development Services Apps / Development Application / 2013 / 18
Disclosure of Interest:  None
Date:                    17 June 2013
Author:               Rob Casella, Planning Officer
Signature of Author:
Senior Officer:              David Chidlow, Manager of Planning
Signature of Senior Officer:
The proponent is seeking planning approval for a 20 megawatt photovoltaic (PV) solar power generating facility within the Emu Downs property, located on Lot 3842 Bibby Road, Badgingarra. The application is required to be determined by the Regional Development Assessments Panel (Wheatbelt JDAP).
APA Group (APAG) is the current owner of the Emu Downs Wind Farm facility (EDWF) in the Shire of Dandaragan (the Shire) located on Bibby Road, Badgingarra. The Emu Downs entity is zoned ¡¥Rural¡¦ under the Shires Local Planning Scheme No. 7 (LPS7) and comprises 3 farms, being Myara West, Myara East (either side of Yeeramullah Road south of the intersection with Bibby Road) and Emu Downs abutting Myara East to its East. The total area of the 3 lots is 5221.44 hectares.
Portions of the Emu Downs Holdings are currently leased for the Emu Downs Wind Farm facility comprising wind turbines which are distributed across the property. Photovoltaic Array Component
The proponent wishes to develop a PV solar farm on a portion of the subject lot, to be located in the north east corner, having an approximate area of 60 hectares allocated to the solar PV facility. An additional 10 hectares has been allocated for construction activity such as lay down areas etc.
The major component will be the installation of sufficient solar panels to generate approximately 20MW of power through the use of twin blocks of solar panels, each equivalent to around 10MW. The solar panels are to be arranged in rows occupying an area of around 700 to 750 metres in width and 700 to 800 metres in length, covering approximately 50-60 hectares in total.
The applicant proposes to install a fixed tilt type solar panel structure, although a single or dual access tracking type could still be contemplated as a result of the Engineering, Procurement and Construct (EPC) contract (for the purpose of this application, there is no difference between the two alternatives) with all cabling intended to be underground.
A number of small enclosed collector stations will be provided, housing inverters and switchgear to convert the power from DC to AC. It will then be stepped up via transformers to a site reticulation voltage of 22kV (the same as the existing EDWF). An amenities building is also provided to contain the user interface for the Supervisory Control & Data Acquisition (SCADA) system, the digital monitoring and maintenance system for the facility. The existing EDWF amenities building will be utilised for ongoing operations and maintenance staff.
A minimum of three metrological stations containing specified measurement instruments, data logging equipment and communications equipment will be established within the PV array.
In addition, the following infrastructure will also be provided:
·         Tools / spare parts storage area;
·         Potentially hazardous substances storage area;
·         General ablution facilities;
·         Access drives;
·         Service Car parking area; and
·         Outdoor facilities suitable for operation / maintenance of the PV plant and operational staff requirements.
Note: The Solar Farm facilities will be significantly smaller than the existing wind farm amenity and stores buildings
A service access road will be constructed and the whole facility enclosed in a perimeter fence which will be setback a minimum of 20m from the nearest property boundary with the actual PV facility setback a further 5m.
Distribution Components
The proposed solar power facility will make use of and connect into the existing transmission connection substation infrastructure already established to service the existing EDWF. The only new distribution infrastructure required is a new 22kV underground connection from the actual PV array and Balance of System (BOS) itself to the existing wind farm substation approximately 4km to the west. The new 22kV underground cable will be constructed by APA and run from the PV facility through an existing cleared  access laneway between the Poison north and Middle Bush blocks, then across open farmland to the existing substation, to minimise the impact upon general farming operations and future access.
Power supplies will be converted for transmission via the wider network through the existing 132kV powerlines currently connected to the existing substation, requiring a small switchyard upgrade and installation of two extra banks of switchgear and protections systems, accommodated within the existing substation site. The trenching for the 22kV underground cables will also be used to provide low voltage power to the PV site as well as redundant fibre optic cabling for communications purposes (SCADA) which can be seen in the attachments.
It is expected that the PV facility will take between 6 to 9 months to construct and employ up to 150 people during its construction peak with the requirement to provide a temporary construction compound incorporating all office, messing, toilet and washing facilities considered necessary to facilitate the works.
The project will necessitate in the order of 350 truck movements to the site with the majority comprising standard freight containers. There will not be any requirement for oversized vehicles requiring escort vehicles or special route modifications.
Transportable buildings and storage containers for construction purposes will be delivered prior to construction and removed upon completion.
A Traffic Feasibility Study and Delivery Method Statement will be completed by the proponent to confirm proposed transport routes along which the majority of traffic from Fremantle port will travel.

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The subject land is currently zoned “Rural” under the Shire’s Local Planning Scheme No. 7 (LPS7). The adjoining land uses are also zoned “Rural” with the exception of the adjacent lot to the east,
Badgingarra National Park, which is reserved for “Conservation” purposes.
The proposed PV solar power facility is a use not listed under the LPS7 Zoning Table. As a use not listed, in accordance with Clause 4.4.2 of the Scheme, Council is to either:
a) Determine that the use is consistent with the objectives of the particular zone and is therefore permitted;
b) Determine that the use may be consistent with the objectives of the particular zone and thereafter follow the advertising procedures of clause 9.4 in considering an application for planning approval; or
c) Determine that the use is not consistent with the objectives of the particular zone and is therefore not permitted;
When considering an application in accordance with Clause 4.4.2 of the Scheme, the Shire is to have due regard to the relevant matters stated under Clause 10.2 of the Scheme. They are as follows:
a) The aims and provisions of the Scheme and any other relevant local planning schemes operating within the Scheme area;
e) Any relevant policy or strategy of the Commission and any relevant policy adopted by the Government of the State;
f) Any Local Planning Policy adopted by the local government under clause 2.4, any heritage policy statement for a designated heritage area adopted under clause 7.2.2, and any other plan or guideline adopted by the local government under the Scheme;
i) The compatibility of a use or development within its setting;
l) The likely effect of the proposal on the natural environment and any means that are proposed to protect or to mitigate impacts on the natural environment;
n) The preservation of the amenity of the locality;
o) The relationship of the proposal to development on adjoining land or on other land in the locality including but not limited to, the likely effect of the height, bulk, scale, orientation and appearance of the proposal;
p) Whether the proposed means of access to and egress from the site are adequate and whether adequate provision has been made for the loading, unloading, manoeuvring and parking of vehicles;
q) The amount of traffic likely to be generated by the proposal, particularly in relation to the capacity of the road system in the locality and the probable effect on a traffic flow and safety;
y) Any relevant submissions received on the application;
z) The comments or submissions received from any authority consulted under clause 10.1.1.
The aims and provisions of the Scheme for the subject lot address the objective of the Rural zone as follows:
“to provide for a range of rural activities such as broadacre and diversified farming so as to retain the rural character and amenity of the locality, in such a way as to prevent land degradation and further loss of biodiversity”.
As solar farms are a relatively new development venture in Western Australia, no state or local policy has been developed onthis issue, therefore, references shall be extracted from the Western Australian Planning Commission¡¦s (WAPC) Planning Bulletin No 67- Guidelines for Wind Farm Development, as suggested through correspondence from a Department of Planning (DoP) Officer, which suggests:
“Rural, non-rural and similar zones, local governments should consider wind farm proposals under the provisions of Clause 4.4.2(b) of the Model Scheme text”. (Which is the same as clause 4.4.2(b) of the Dandaragan Scheme quoted above).
The Shire’s Local Planning Strategy (Strategy) is the only relevant plan for such a proposal which supports the development as stated in Objective 4 of section of the Strategy:
“Support appropriate non-rural uses where they are compatible with adjoining and nearby rural uses, environmental attributes and landscape to complement the primary productive use of the land where a site contains remnant vegetation and other environmental features or lacks realistic potential for agricultural use the Council will consider the proposed non-rural uses as the predominant use on its merits”.

Objective 3 under the Strategy for “Rural” zones states:
“Required proposals for non-agricultural uses to be supported and justified by an agricultural impact assessment unless otherwise varied by the Council”.
Under the Strategy, Council may refuse an application for planning consent where in its opinion the proposed development will:
1. Adversely affect the rural landscape;
2. Adversely impact upon the agricultural use of the land and adjoining/nearby areas;
3. Cause detrimental environmental impacts;
4. Result in unacceptable fire management risk;
5. Place unacceptable servicing requirements which have not been appropriately addressed by the applicant;
6. Result in impacts which cannot be adequately contained on the application site; and
7. In the opinion of the Council will result in an undesirable planning outcome and will be contrary to the orderly and proper planning of the locality.
It is considered that the solar farm will not affect the rural landscape or its agricultural pursuit, as it is comparatively a small portion of the rural lot to be utilised for the project.
The surrounding area is utilised by the existing Emu Downs Wind Farm and borders the Badgingarra National Park. As there is little disturbance to the land, as much of it has been cleared through historic farming practices, the compatibility of the development is considered suitable with the surrounding land uses.
The topography of the proposed site for the PV facility slopes from a high point at Bibby Road, downwards to the South, in conjunction with the surrounding native bush, the facility will be significantly screened, reducing the visual impact both generically and specifically from Bibby Road. The PV panels are designed and engineered to collect and absorb sunlight and not to reflect it, alleviating the concern Shire Officers had with glare and reflection for passing traffic. Generally solar panels reflect in the order of 4% of incoming light compared to vehicle windows which reflect around 8% of incoming light, therefore will not introduce any additional risk at ground level to Bibby Road or air traffic in the vicinity.
The preservation of the amenity of the locality will be maintained due to the sloping land from Bibby Road as well as the vegetation maintained in the road reserve by screening the development from the road.
The proposed means of access and egress have been established and are considered suitably located. Adequate storage space has also been proposed as depicted in the diagram within the attachments.
There will be no substantial generation in additional traffic from constant vehicles to the site over the period of construction.
There is no foreseen issues regarding traffic although it is recommended the proponent liaise with the local school bus service to ensure no disruptions are encountered.
A number of submissions have been received from various Responsible Authorities indicating their position on the proposed solar facility. The submissions can be seen in the Schedule of Submissions within the attachments. If Councillors wish to view the full submission, it will be made available upon request.
The proposal is to fill the gap experienced by the EDWF in its offpeak energy output periods during the day when the wind speeds drop (a deficit of about 20kV to 30kV). The agreement for use of the land requires rehabilitation of the site upon cessation of the use. Given the timeframe for the facility of 25-30 years and likely advances in rehabilitation and refurbishment techniques during that period, it is anticipated a rehabilitation plan will be submitted to the Shire for approval prior to the cessation of the facility.
Given the above information, it is the Planning Officers recommendation that Council grant approval imposing the conditions stated in the recommendation to be presented to the Joint Wheatbelt Development Assessment Panel for this application.
·         APA Group (Adam Pegg, Shane Cremin);
·         Department of Planning;
·         Environmental Protection Authority;
·         Air Services Australia;
·         Civil Aviation Safety Authority;
·         Department of Agriculture and Food;
·         Department of Defence;
·         Department of Environment and Conservation;
·         Department of Regional Development and Lands;
·         Department of Fire and Emergency Services;
·         Main Roads Western Australia;
·         Royal Australian Air Force Combat Support Unit;
·         Western Power;
·         Wheatbelt Development Commission;
·         Department of Mines and Petroleum;
·         Landgate;
·         Community Consultation; and
·         Shire Officers.
Amended plans received on the 14 June 2013 show a reduced site footprint due to improved technology of the solar collectors chosen. The original plans showed 57.6 ha whereas the amended plans show 41 ha. It was not considered necessary to readvertise the amended plans as they reduce the scale and any potential impact of the development.
·         Local Planning Scheme No 7.
·         Local Planning Strategy ¡V Rural Land Use and Rural Settlement.
·         SPP 2.5 Land Use Planning in Rural Areas.
·         Western Australian Planning Commission¡¦s (WAPC) Planning Bulletin No 67- Guidelines for Wind Farm Development.
·         There are no local policy implications relevant to this item.
The applicant has paid a sum of $38,505 with $6,320 allocated to the Development Assessment Panel.
·         Shire of Dandaragan Local Planning Strategy ¡V Rural Land Use and Rural Settlement.
Circulated with the agenda are the following items relevant to this report:
·         Preliminary Site Development Plan (Doc Id: 13633)
·         Detail (Doc Id: 13741)
·         Access (Doc Id: 13741)
·         Construction Facility (Doc Id: 13741)
·         Schedule of Submissions (Doc Id: 14521)
·         Amended plans dated 14 June 2013 (Doc Id: 14520) (Marked 9.4.5)
Simple majority
That Council indicate to the Wheatbelt JDAP that they support the planning application for a proposed 20MW Solar Photovoltaic Facility at Emu Downs Wind farm on Lot 3842 Bibby Road, Badgingarra and recommend the following:
The JDAP determine that the use is consistent with the objectives of the ¡§Rural¡¨ zone and is therefore permitted under section 4.4.2 of the Shire¡¦s Local Planning Scheme No. 7 under the following conditions:
1. All development shall accord with the Development Application Report prepared by Masterplan Consultants dated March 2013 (Version 4) and subject to any modifications required as a consequence of any condition(s) of this approval.;
2. The development plans, as dated 14 June 2013 (amended plans) together with any requirements and annotations detailed thereon, are the plans approved as part of this application and shall form part of the planning approval issued.
3. The endorsed plans shall not be modified or altered without the prior written approval of the Wheatbelt JDAP in accordance with Regulation 17 of the Planning and Development (Development Assessment Panels) Regulations 2011
4. The use and development must be commenced within 3 years of the date of this approval and completed within 5 years of commencement;
5. Access and egress to the subject site from Bibby Road and any road works shall be located and constructed to the satisfaction of the Executive Manager Infrastructure / Major Projects and include all necessary drainage and signage. Costs applicable to the construction of the access point/s onto the site and any related issues shall be borne by the proponent;
6. The intersection of the proposed access way and Bibby Road be upgraded at the landowner/applicant¡¦s cost to the specifications of Main Roads WA (MRWA). Engineering drawings and specifications are to be submitted to MRWA for approval prior to construction;
7. Any pavement on the site must be capable of accepting all anticipated loadings (including access ways and parking areas). The Shire will not accept any responsibility for subsequent failure of any pavement;
8. A Traffic Feasibility Study and Delivery Method Statement to be completed by the applicant and submitted to the Shire to confirm proposed transport routes along which the majority of traffic from relevant ports and local manufacturers will travel. A road condition survey is to form part of this and any maintenance work required to public roads as a result of transport activity is to be undertaken by the project contractor to the satisfaction of the Shire of Dandaragan Executive Manager Infrastructure / Major Projects;
9. The use and development must be conducted so that it has minimum impact on the amenity of the area by reason of :
·         Transportation of materials, goods and commodities to and from the premises;
·         Appearance of any buildings, works and materials; and
·         The emission of noise, vibration, dust, wastewater, waste products or reflected light;
10. The proposed solar panels must meet all relevant Australian Standards for construction and reflection to minimise any glare impacts;
11. An interpretive information panel is to be provided at the existing Emu Downs Wind Farm tourist information bay;
12. An Environmental Management Plan for the management and operation of the use and development must be submitted to and approved by the Responsible Authority(s). Three (3) copies must be provided. When approved, the plan will be endorsed and will form part of this approval.
The Environmental Management Plan must address the following:
·         Site maintenance and weed and pest management;
·         Construction management;
·         Soil, water and flood management;
·         Fire management;
·         Traffic management;
·         Procedures to ensure that no significant adverse environmental impacts occur as a result of the use and development.
13. The temporary construction compound is to be removed at the end of the construction period and the area to be returned back to its original condition (grassed paddock).
14. A plan outlining the Decommissioning and Rehabilitation of the site will be required at least 2 years prior to the cession of the 25 to 30 year timeframe of the facility. It is to be submitted and endorsed by the Responsible Authority(s). Amendments may be submitted if further developments advance.
15. Within 2 years of the facility being decommissioned, all infrastructure on the site must be removed and the site restored to its original condition to the satisfaction of the Responsible Authority(s) unless otherwise agreed in writing by the Shire of Dandaragan Chief Executive Officer; and
16. Shire of Dandaragan is to be advised of completion of the solar facility.
·         The proponent is to liaise with the local school bus operator to ensure these runs are not disturbed due to increased volumes of traffic.
·         The installation of the sewage facility for the construction facility shall be installed in accordance with the Health (Treatment of Sewage and Disposal of Effluent and Liquid Waste) Regulations 1974.
·         Storage tanks should be fitted with BFB coupling or a standpipe installed to allow for fast filling.
·         Bulk water supply for fire suppression be made available to all Emergency Services within the Shire. Building Protection zones and Firebreaks will have to be adhered to.
·         The proponent may wish to consider providing greater than minimum fire mitigation strategies to protect against unplanned bush fire events.
·         That the applicant be advised this is planning approval only and not a building permit. A building permit must be obtained for this development prior to construction commencing.

·         The applicant be advised that if any on site accommodation for construction is to be provided a separate application will need to be submitted prior to commencement