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$5m solar farm plan for data hub site

Solar Farm Proposed Site Mugga Lane Monaro Highway.

Solar Farm Proposed Site Mugga Lane Monaro Highway. Photo: actjuliette.dudley

A development application for a $5 million solar farm off Mugga Lane in Tuggeranong has been received by the ACT Planning and Land Authority, with signs that the land may hold Aboriginal artefacts.

The 2-megawatt facility is slated for block 1677 - the same block proposed for a planned cemetery and crematorium, although it is believed there will be some distance between the two projects.

The proposed location at Hume is bounded to the north by Mugga Lane and to the east by the Monaro Highway.

It covers 19 hectares, with 12 hectares proposed to be fenced off.

The block was once set aside for a gas-fired power station and data centre but the project was later proposed for further north after a campaign by residents in the lead-up to the 2008 election.

A report submitted with the solar farm application says a search of the ACT Heritage Register identified two Aboriginal sites within the proposal area.

It suggests some artefacts are present and a test excavation be conducted to determine the ''nature and extent of any subsurface archaeological deposits and their significance, both scientific and cultural''.

''If unanticipated Aboriginal objects are identified during construction works, work must cease and the site be assessed by an archaeologist in consultation with

the relevant local Aboriginal stakeholders,'' the report read.

ActewAGL ultimately rejected land at Hume for the controversial gas-fired power station five years ago because the proposed site could hold Aboriginal artefacts.

A Sydney company, Zhenfa Solar Power Australia, has lodged the application for the solar farm in response to the ACT government's request for proposals to support the development of big solar generation capacity in the Territory.

It is proposed that access to the solar farm site would be off Mugga Lane. The Government Paddock User Group has previously expressed concern about the loss of more paddocks used for recreational horse riding.

Group secretary Jane Hedges has said that about 20 per cent of horse paddocks in the ACT have been swallowed up by industrial and residential projects in the past five years. According to a report submitted with the application, 8000 solar ''modules'' would be installed within the proposal site

''The installation would be raised off the ground to provide visibility and mobility of the tracking system of the panels, as well as allowing wind flow,'' it read. Nineteen trees would be removed.

Native trees and shrubs would be planted along the Monaro Highway to reduce unsightlinesss.

ACTPLA is accepting public comment on the proposal until Tuesday.

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