A $150 million solar farm at Bookaar looks all but set to go ahead, but Corangamite Shire Council has teamed up with objectors in a battle to ensure key safeguards are put in place.
The project was given the green light by the Victorian government in December, an early Christmas present neighbour and objector Andrew Duynhoven said he wasn't happy with.
But a group of 10 objectors and the council are now taking their fight back to the Victorian Civil Administrative Tribunal for the second time.
This week they made their submissions to VCAT with the first practice hearing set down for April 1. "I thought that was applicable because it's April Fools," Mr Duynhoven said.
Another hearing is also set down for mid-July, but he said he had no expectation that he could stop the project going ahead this time.
"The game plan has sort of changed now. We can't hope to win. We can't hope to stop it," he said.
"The only thing we can hope to do is get some more conditions or get some of our concerns in regard to decommissioning noted. Try and put the safeguards in.
"We can't win the war, we can just win a couple of battles. There's too many things at play. The government's renewable targets need to be met, so there's too many underlying political forces to win now.
"The political environment doesn't allow us to win now. We've taken on the government in the minister. How do we hope to win?
"I'm not worried about going to VCAT again. Some people find the VCAT process scary, I don't."
Plans for a 200MW project 10km from Camperdown were first submitted to the shire in August 2018, but it was rejected a month later before being knocked back by VCAT on appeal.
While VCAT left the door open for the company behind the project, Pacific Infinergy, to reapply in 2019 the state government changed planning guidelines for large-scale solar farms, bringing them into line with windfarms.
That move paved the way for the project to bypass the council process, and in 2020 the company made a revised application to the state government which has now been approved.
Mayor Ruth Gstrein said a notice of decision to approve the project was released by the minister mid-December, and the council decided the issues they were concerned about hadn't been suitably addressed in the planning permit.
By taking it to VCAT, they are hoping to get the conditions strengthened.
Mr Duynhoven said the minister had made some minor changes, but he didn't think they went far enough.
He said the minister had not addressed any of the hydrology issues. "They don't see it as a problem, and the minister hasn't done anything about it," he said.
"The fire risk management, apart from some suppression systems on the battery storage, haven't changed."
With other solar projects coming online in the shire, objectors don't want bad precedents to be set.
"We're starting to be the industrial precinct for the people in Melbourne. As well as the food bowl they want us to be the power bowl," Mr Duynhoven said.
Corangamite's manager of planning and building Aaron Moyne said the council wanted to make sure if the project was approved, the conditions in place were effective and could be delivered.
He said the council wanted to make sure the issues of drainage, hydrology, fire management and community consultation were tested.
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