THE site of a proposed $150 million solar farm at Bookaar is considered high quality agricultural land, an expert representing objectors to the project said on Tuesday.
Sean Kenny was addressing the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal in Warrnambool.
He said land abutting the proposed site had soil that was considered good to very good, with multiple agricultural uses.
Mr Kenny, who has a Masters Degree in Agriculture, said this was why it had proven popular to dairy farmers.
"Those people managing that area have been able to use the rainfall and the soil to their advantage," he said.
However, John Cicero, who was representing Infinergy Specific, said the land on the proposed site was not recognised as high quality agricultural land in Corangamite Shire Council's planning scheme.
Mr Cicero said Timboon, Cobden and Simpson were identified as places with agricultural land that needed protecting, but not Bookaar.
"I could take you to quite a few other areas that have high quality agricultural land (that are not mentioned in the planning scheme)," Mr Kenny said in response.
Mr Cicero again asked Mr Kenny whether the site of the proposed solar farm was identified as high quality agricultural land in the planning scheme.
Mr Kenny conceded it was not.
Mr Cicero also asked Mr Kenny if he had inspected the soil on the proposed site.
Mr Kenny said he had not.
He was also questioned by Mr Cicero about whether the proposed solar farm would affect the ability of neighbouring farmers to continue to operate a dairy farm.
"You're not suggesting those dairy farms could not continue to be used for dairy farms?" he asked.
"No," Mr Kenny replied.
Objector Andrew Duynhoven told the tribunal he was concerned about the possible risk of flooding and fire if the solar farm was given approval.
He said he was concerned about how the company proposing the facility would maintain the property to ensure it was not a fire hazard.
"How many sheep?" he asked.
"Are they going to mow it every two weeks?"
Mr Duynhoven said he was also concerned that a change in the way the land on the proposed site was used may result in more water on his property.
He said this was a concern and could affect the viability of his property.
The tribunal is set to hear from a number of objectors to the proposed solar farm, which will include 700,000 photovoltaic panels, inverters, a substation, battery storage and site compound on a 588-hectare site when the hearing continues on Wednesday.
A site visit will take place on Thursday before the hearing continues in Melbourne next week.
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