Tree felling continues after Elementus sells Williamsdale solar farm
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Tree felling continues after Elementus sells Williamsdale solar farm

The felling of trees continues at Williamsdale ahead of construction of the capital's third solar farm, but the company that battled opposition to its approval for three years has sold its interest.

Elementus Energy recently sold the solar project to a subsidiary of Melbourne-based Impact Investment Group, which has contracted German company ib vogt GmbH​ to build the 11-megawatt farm.

Woodchips on the site of the new solar farm on the Monaro Highway at Williamsdale on Friday.

Woodchips on the site of the new solar farm on the Monaro Highway at Williamsdale on Friday.Credit:Jay Cronan

Impact will spend "up to $35 million" to acquire and develop the project on the Monaro Highway, the Australian Financial Review reported recently.

Elementus won the entitlement in 2013 to an ACT government feed-in tariff support payment worth a maximum $2.3 million annually for electricity delivery for 20 years.

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But it encountered fierce public resistance to its planned site near Uriarra Village, eventually leading to the announcement last March that it would move to blocks at Williamsdale leased from the ACT government.

Planning Minister Mick Gentleman used his call-in powers to approve the Williamsdale project in January, with dozens of trees having been felled since mid-May. The minister's notice of decision referred to the expected removal of 156 trees in and around the solar array footprint, mostly yellow box.

Elementus managing director Ashleigh Antflick declined to comment this week on questions about whether it had always been the company's intention to sell before construction began.

Impact chief executive Chris Lock said the farm's 34-hectare size and 20-year fixed-price offtake were the two attractions when announcing the purchase.

"It's quite a large solar farm for Australia, this will be one of the largest owned by a private group," he said.

Impact is seeking to build up a portfolio of $100 million worth of renewable assets in the next year, the AFR reported, and its website describes the company's mission to "shift capital towards investments that blend financial returns with deep social and environmental impact".

Founded in 2013, Impact is co-owned by Mr Lock and Small Giants, the family company of Daniel Almagor and wife Berry Liberman, and its staff includes retired AFL champion turned investment analyst Chris Judd.

The company has said the farm will deliver enough electricity for 3600 households from November.

Williamsdale resident Terry Woolcott said she was surprised to learn of the sale, but trusted any expansion of the project would require extra approval.