A solar farm at Baringhup will be constructed after Victorian planning minister Richard Wynne approved a planning permit this week despite objections from the Baringhup community.
The installation of 260,000 solar panels over the 230 hectare site in Baringhup West Road is expected to generate enough power for 34,000 households each year.
The 75 megawatt farm will also include a 37 MW battery.
Mr Wynne said the decision was made after thorough consideration of community feedback and advice from independent advisory panel Planning Panels Victoria.
He said the decision gave the best outcomes for the community, the environment and energy reliability.
"Large scale renewable energy projects are bringing enormous investment and employment opportunities to regional and rural areas and this project is no exception," Mr Wynne said.
"This solar farm will create jobs and reduce greenhouse emissions - boosting supply and putting downward pressure on power prices."
In July, Baringhup community members objected to the farm's construction when the independent panel hosted a three-day hearing in Maldon and Baringhup.
Concerns over the loss of agricultural land, impact on the environment, a lack of community consultation and fire risks were raised by residents.
Fourth generation farmer Shane Baker and his 10-year-old daughter Rory both spoke against the proposal in July.
"We are certainly appreciative of being able to have our say but there's no point waiting until after the fact to try and stop (this). We didn't want it from the get go," Mr Baker said in July.
Mr Baker said the decision by Mr Wynne was disappointing. He said many resident found out the decision through the media.
"All I'll say is it's pretty disappointing," he said.
"For the ones the ministers are supposed to represent not to be notified (first) is disgusting.
"(They are) making policies based on what is happening in Melbourne and not thinking of rural communities who, in turn, are going to be destroyed."
Mount Alexander Shire also raised matters such as the potential loss of productive agricultural land, the visual impact of the proposed development, landscaping requirements and the impact of heavy vehicles on local roads and bridges.
In March, the shire deferred the decision to the planning minister after citing conflicts between state and local planning policies.
Mount Alexander Shire mayor Christine Henderson said with council deferring the decision, they had no say in the outcome.
"I don't know if any further permissions need granting but I imagine the minister's process is comprehensive and the decision sets out conditions," she said.
"Hopefully the concerns of locals have been considered. But it is out of our hands.
"People may say that's a cop out but we knew it was hard for our planners. It wasn't clear what weight state policy was putting on solar farms over agricultural land."
Cr Henderson said while some people will be disappointed in the decision, she hoped the impact wouldn't be as big as some objectors believed it would be.
"It might not be outcome objectors would have liked but hopefully some concerns have been heard and built into the permit," she said.
"The process of considering objectors' and applicants' views was heard locally. (The state government) convened an independent planning panel which met in Maldon and Baringhup, so all those objectors were able to attended as opposed to going to Melbourne.
"Some people will be disappointed. I can understand that. But hopefully it's not going to be as bigger impact as they are worried about."
The independent panel found in favour of approving a permit after ruling visual and environmental impacts could be managed through permit conditions and facility design.
The panel also found impacts to agriculture would not be significant and that bushfire risk could be managed.
Permit conditions include a construction management plan, an environmental and operations management plan, a traffic management plan and a wildfire management plan with conditions recommended by the CFA.
A landscaping plan for the solar farm will ensure adequate screening is provided and will require consultation with a bushfire expert to ensure any screen planting does not create an unreasonable bushfire risk.
The construction of the solar farm is expected to create about 130 jobs.
RES Australia, the company behind the proposal, declined to comment
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