South Fremantle Solar Farm

The City of Fremantle is hoping to develop a large-scale solar farm at the landfill site adjacent to South Beach Estate in South Fremantle. The City of Fremantle has had an exclusive working agreement with Australian-based company Epuron since 2015. Since then Epuron has progressed environmental and other regulatory approvals for the solar farm, which would be fully funded by Epuron. Once development approvals and an agreed lease (of 20 -25 years) is in place construction will commence with the solar farm operational by late 2018 or early 2019.

The proposed site for the Solar Farm was operated by the City of Fremantle as landfill between the 1930s and the 1990s. During that period uncontrolled fill included domestic, industrial and likely quarantine waste was deposited on the site. Under the Contaminated Sites Act 2003, the site is classified as contaminated – remediation required. The community has expressed strong concerns over potential adverse health and environmental impacts if a clean-up of the site were to occur through a ‘dig out and dump’ approach. In any event, studies show this is not currently financially viable. A management plan for the site is currently in place which includes regular groundwater testing and monitoring of gases which would continue during operation of the solar farm.

Proposed location of the Solar Farm, covering approximately 8 ha of the 19.4 ha contaminated site

The Solar Farm will produce up to 4.9 MW of power and is in line  the recommendations of the City’s draft energy plan and as well as its One Planet commitment of carbon neutrality for corporate emissions to 2020 and the aim of being 100% powered by renewables by 2025. Epuron has not yet completed final equipment selection for the site, however it is more likely that the solar panels will be fixed in place. There will be negligible noise or movement on the site once the solar farm is operational. Minimal construction  disturbance will managed through an approved construction management plan which will detail control measures to minimise dust and noise during construction phase.

The Hollis park path way and the landscaping in that area will remain untouched.

If you have any further queries, please refer to the City’s website.

UPDATES:

South Fremantle Precinct Meeting 22 May 2018 630pm at the Local Hotel

South Beach Community Group members have been invited to attend a meeting held by our neighbours at the South Fremantle Precinct. The meeting will be held at the Local Hotel at 630pm on the 22 May 2018. Mayor Brad Pettit and council staffers will be in attendance to update residents on the South Fremantle Solar Farm.

Minutes: Community Meeting 29 April 2018

Cr Jon Strachan from the City of Fremantle apologised that South Beach Community communication has obviously not been sufficient given the number of concerns raised by members of our community. Jon actually lives downwind on a SW breeze of the contaminated site and therefore also has very personal interest in ensuring that the construction of the solar farm does not present a safety risk.

He was involved in the original community consultation for the site prior to becoming a Councillor and from that consultation overwhelming community opinion was that no dig and dump on the site was a priority for community.  That consultation identified that passive use of the site was the best option; initially a wind farm was considered however a solar farm was established as the best option for the site.

Louise Ainsworth from the City of Fremantle outlined the Project timeline and future stages prior to final approval and construction of the South Fremantle Solar Farm. Detailed information including frequently asked questions can be found on the City of Fremantle’s website. Important to note that when queries have been raised with the City of Fremantle, answers have been uploaded to the solar farm FAQ.

Questions:

  1. How come certain amount of planning proposals have been approved without EPA being involved? The planning application is only to grant planning approval; the order of approvals is undertaken in accordance with the planning process. The Project was not originally refered to the EPA as it was not considered to require assessment. However it has now been referred and if the EPA considered it requires assessment it will be assessed.
  2. Who is paying for all of this process? This is part of due diligence – City of Fremantle took Epuron on as a partner.
  3. Is it correct that a previous company that looked into solar farm but it was too costly?  Not aware of that please provide information to City of Fremantle if so. 
  4. Why was Epuron chosen? The City of Fremantle had ten responses; First Solar was the City’s first choice. After 6 months they decided the proposal didn’t suit them as they have a different model of solar panels. Epuron was second preferred. Access to the grid has also changed and made it easier for private business to access to grid which is another reason that First Solar struggled.
  5. How many solar sites are there on a contaminated landfill in residential area? There are solar farms on contaminated sites (around the world) but not aware of which /any in residential area.
  6. How is Epuron going to install and manage the site to minimise contamination? Currently in preliminary design phase only. Epuron are currently planning and designing  how to manage contamination during construction. The draft site management plan (attached to the planning application)  goes some way to determining this.  The site management and construction management plans will need to be approved by DWER and its independent auditor as well as the City before construction can commence.
  7. Is the large land transaction you have mentioned referring to the lease? Yes.
  8. What are the Project timelines; when did the Project start? Expressions of interests were done 4 years ago.
  9. Has legislation changed in those 4 years and how can this impact on the Project? The City initially took out an exclusive working agreement with Epuron for 12 months which has since been extended every 12 months.
  10. When was the last time a report was publicised on monitoring for the site? Not sure. This information including what is monitored and how regularly is available on the DWER website.
  11. Is there going to be a removal of the bund? It is recognised that the bund may be contaminated. Before Eupron can consider removing the bund they need to complete a site management plan and rigorous testing will need to completed.  There is already a sampling protocol for this in the draft site management plan – refer to section 5.0.
  12. Where exactly is the bund? The bund is located generally in the central area. It borders a flat section which was original planned to be used as a sporting field however this was abandoned due to safety concerns of playing on the contaminated site. The bund was developed to protect a trench containing a pipeline running through the centre of the contaminated site from material collapse.

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