Moves to build a $150 million solar farm at Bookaar has hit another roadblock with the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal knocking back their appeal.
It was to be the south-west's first solar farm, but the backlash by residents was swift with 80 people lodging objections to the project.
Councillors then voted against issuing a permit for the Infinergy Pacific project that proponents promised would create up to 150 jobs.
The company took its fight to get the project off the ground to VCAT but after 10 days of hearings in Warrrnambool, Melbourne and on site, they too knocked it back.
It was a costly exercise for Corangamite Shire Council which has spent about $120,000 on the VCAT hearings.
Objector and neighbour to the proposed site, Andrew Duynhoven, said he couldn't believe it.
"Honestly I had my doubts. I thought they would have gone on with the proposal and put on heaps and heaps of conditions on it which potentially could have made it unviable," he said.
"That was our fallback position.
"To get a flat out denied permit it's unbelievable,"
He said that in order for the company to address any of the issued raised in the VCAT decision, Infinergy Energy would have to apply for a new permit.
"They have reapply and go to council again because the guidelines haven't come in in order," Mr Duynhoven said.
He said the decision was made with no reference to recent solar farm guidelines that were introduced by the state government last month.
Those new guidelines are aimed at saving councils time and money by making the minister for planning the responsible authority for all large-scale solar farm applications - a similar move the state made to address windfarm developments.
Mr Duynhoven said that fundamentally the permit was flawed.
"Council always said if they'd done a better job in the permit they would have agreed to it, because statutorily there is really no grounds for refusal," he said.
He said he believed that because their reports were inadequate, it led to VCAT having some doubts about all the fire risk management and hydrology to the satisfaction of protecting everyone.
Mayor Neil Trotter said he was still to read the decision but believed it was knocked back mainly on lack of information in relation to the planning process and some issues around drainage and fire control that they felt hadn't been adequately addressed.
"It probably reinforces some of our claims as to why we knocked it back in the first place," Cr Trotter said.
"It's an expensive way to find out you were right."
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