Solar protest

ABOUT a dozen protesters fronted Fremantle council on Wednesday evening as it voted to put a business plan for a solar farm on the old South Fremantle tip out for public consultation.

Several protestors said they’d had no idea about the extent of contamination on the site until reading about it in the Herald and were now concerned about the impacts on their families’ health.

“The proposal to excavate soil on site and move it around to help level it, is a big worry as this is the way that people’s health gets damaged,” said campaigner Bobby Wilson.

She wants any excavation banned, saying it goes against standard management practices for contaminated sites.

Ms Wilson said she’d sat for a year documenting the groundworks for the neighbouring South Beach Village and says despite a raft of environmental conditions being imposed, they were constantly breached by the same firm being used by solar farm proponent Epuron.

Mayor Brad Pettitt assured the protestors that the council wouldn’t be giving the farm any approval until it was proven to be safe for the community.

Epuron is close to securing Western Power and environmental approvals, according to a staff report on Wednesday.

“The proposed lease term is 25 years with rent reviews every three years,” said the report.

• Protestors fronted Fremantle council saying they were concerned about health risks if it approves a solar farm near their properties. Photos by Maria Vujcik

“The latter will allow review of the profitability of the solar farm and allow the city to instigate more commercial rents if the profitability of the solar farm increases.

“A further term of up to 15 years could be negotiated.”

The business plan starts with a peppercorn lease, and rent reviews would only be considered once the operation started bringing in revenue of $1.4 million.

Under the proposed terms of the lease, Epuron would have to accept that the council would not be responsible for any remediation of the site, but would remain responsible for its management and any compliance issues under the contaminated sites act.

by STEVE GRANT  

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