Baringhup residents against the development of a solar farm in their community are considering whether to appeal the planning minister's decision to approve the project.
On December 31, Victorian Planning Minister Richard Wynne approved a planning permit for the installation of 260,000 solar panels at a 230-hectare site in Baringhup West Road.
Shane Baker, who was one of many residents to speak against the project at an independent advisory panel hearing, said the community remained very disappointed with the outcome.
"We were disappointed with the way the minister for panning handled situation in regards to media being notified five days prior to the people directly affected," he said. "His timing of (the decision's) release can only be described as questionable.
"We believe there are some pathways to appeal and are assessing those options. We haven't made a decision either way."
The developers behind the project, RES Australia, hope to start work on the project in the second half of 2020.
"The plans are well developed, but some minor modifications will be required to accommodate changes required by the conditions of consent," RES Australia project development manager Chris Gosling said.
"RES is currently in the process of finalising its development partners, with the final design to be completed by the selected construction contractor.
"As the project develops, we will continue to engage with the community via one-on-one meetings with nearby landowners, engaging with the council and other regional stakeholders, through our website and local media."
Mr Baker said he hoped the community would be notified of any consultations.
"For this community, trusting what RES say is hard for us to do," he said. "RES put forward the fact they had community consultations prior to the panels hearing, they might have had a venue booked but they didn't (effectively) notify the community. A large portion of community wasn't aware it was happening.
"Part of guidelines (in the decision) is that community consultation will be taken by companies."
Mr Gosling said RES values the contributions from community members when it develops projects.
"The planning process provided a public forum for the community to express their feedback on the project to an independent panel," he said.
"This is valuable to the community as it provides the opportunity to be heard, but also provides a line of sight as to how this feedback is incorporated into decision making.
"We welcome the outcome of the minister's decision, and are pleased to see that the feedback provided by the community has been reflected in the conditions of consent to provide assurance that the concerns will be fully addressed."
Mr Baker said he received the decision and regulations set out by the planning panel this week.
"I haven't had a proper chance to read right over them (but) on first glance, there has certainly been some points put in place to address (community concerns).
"But overall it is little comfort (when you could) have something of this magnitude literally at your front doorstep.
"I really, honestly think the decision was made prior to planning panel's hearing. It's a government-led decision to reach these renewable energy scheme (targets) and unfortunately we're the minority in this situation.
"As I have said the whole way along, we might be able to supply power to a nation but we won't be able to feed it. We are importing grain and we might have to start importing milk.
"This is taking prime agricultural land and little respect has been given to that."
Mr Gosling said Baringhup was selected as the location for the project because it met a number of criteria.
"The key criteria are proximity to appropriate electricity infrastructure and transport networks, land predominately clear of vegetation and with supportive ground conditions and topography, planning policy framework that is supportive of the general location and land (being) located outside of watercourses or flood prone areas."
RES chief executive Matt Rebbeck said swiftly deploying significant solar and wind capacity is the only way to reach renewable energy targets set by the state government.
"Developing new clean energy projects can be challenging and the RES project team is able to leverage our significant experience gained in Australia and across our international markets to see this project through to planning consent and beyond," he said.
"We look forward to the development of the Baringhup Solar Farm as another high-quality project in Victoria."