CORANGAMITE Shire Council could easily pay upwards of $80,000 to defend its decision to reject a planning permit for a solar farm at Bookaar.
The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal hearing continued in Melbourne this week after four days in Warrnambool last week.
Corangamite Shire mayor Neil Trotter, who was one of six councillors who unanimously voted to reject the permit submitted by Infinergy Pacific, said VCAT was a costly process.
The council's officers had recommended issuing a planning permit for the farm, but councillors decided against this.
"Hearings have cost council up to $80,000 before - you don't know until it's finished," Councillor Trotter said.
A number of objectors sought advice on how much it would cost to be legally represented.
They were given a figure of $400,000 and a 20 per cent chance of winning.
Andrew Duynhoven said the group of objectors instead decided to represent themselves.
"It's been an experience," Mr Duynhoven said.
"It's the first time I've felt like a defendant."
Mr Duynhoven said the group had been realistic about their chances of winning the battle from day one.
"I personally reckon we've gained some ground," he said.
"We've brought to light and given some real substance to some key issues - one is hydrology and fire risk is another.
"We're having a real crack.
"If we lose I definitely think we've won some ground in getting some substantial conditions added."
Rodney Johnson, who is also an objector to the proposal, said the council had been very supportive of their bid to have a planning permit rejected.
"The councillors gave us a good hearing and we think the council is applying the resources required. We can't speak highly enough about the councillors and the council officers."
Cr Trotter said he would not comment about the matter as it was still before VCAT and would not be drawn on whether councillors made the right decision when rejecting the planning permit.
The land of the proposed site is owned by the McArthur family.
Former Corangamite Shire councillor Bev McArthur, who was on a leave of absence from council when the planning permit was rejected by the council, said she would not comment on the hearing.
"It is solely a matter for the participants," she said.
The Member for Western Victoria Region lists Bookaar Solar Farms as a substantial interest in the Parliament of Victoria Register of Members' Interests.
However, she said she had no role or financial managerial interest in Bookaar Solar Farms.
"We are obliged to list interests that are of indirect interest as well as direct interest," Mrs McArthur said.
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