The developers of a $20 million solar farm to be built on Gunnedah’s old abattoir site will submit an application to demolish the building within the next month.
Ironbark Energy received approval from the Joint Regional Planning Panel last month to proceed with the project, which involves a 27-megawatt solar farm with 90,000 panels on the whole site.
It will be divided into 24 industrial lots around the site’s perimeter and a further 272, 100 kilowatt sub-lots that will be available for purchase.
The company is now in the process of gaining the relevant construction management certificates and regulatory requirements to move forward as well as designs for the project.
One of the biggest moves will be the demolition of the old abattoir that has been labelled an “eyesore” by residents for many years.
Ironbark Energy director Peter Speck said the company had done extensive testing at the site.
“The public perception is that it is contaminated but that is strictly not the case,” he said.
“There’s some asbestos on the roof but none of that would have any deleterious effect on anyone unless you disturb it.”
The asbestos will be removed before the demolition of the building - transforming the area into a brownfield site.
The first step however is to proceed with the subdivision which includes connecting to water and sewer, fencing, driveways and kerbing and guttering along the Quia and Blackjack roads
The 24 lots earmarked for heavy industry development will be 8-10,000 square metres in size.
The 272 sub-lots will have 330 panels on each block and are 1000 square metres, allowing ordinary investors to commit.
“They would own the block outright and own the title of that land, the solar panels and sell the energy that would go into the community transformer that connects to the grid. We would negotiate a sale for that energy,” Mr Speck said.
“There’s nothing else you can do on them but have solar panels.
“It’s a way to allow people to invest in renewable energy at a pretty affordable rate.
“It’s the first example of true community ownership of renewable energy resources in the country.”
The site is to be used as a solar farm for 25 years and the energy produced will provide power not only for consumers in the area, but elsewhere as well.
The industrial subdivision will be finalised before the solar farm can be built.
Construction is expected to start in November and the demolition of the abattoir will happen early next year.
The solar farm is hoped to be fully operational in January 2017.