Brough says key boxes unticked for Solar Farm project

FAILURE to meet the most basic of criteria cost Sunshine Coast Council a shot at $11m in funding for the Valdora Solar Farm project.

That's the explanation Federal Member for Fisher Mal Brough has given, responding to Mayor Mark Jamieson's criticism of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency's decision to overlook the project for funding last week.

As the council questioned why it was rejected while foreign-owned companies were supported, Mr Brough says the council proceeded with an application it knew would fail.

The Daily understands there was correspondence between the council and ARENA before the application was processed during which the council acknowledged its bid would be ineligible as the council was not incorporated under the Corporations Act.

However the council proceeded with the application, only to be knocked back, prompting Cr Jamieson's calls for a "please explain" last week.

READ: Sunshine Coast's solar farm burned by Federal Government

Applicants' requirements are outlined in the Advancing Renewables Program Guidelines. The Daily understands ARENA assessed the application despite its ineligibility, finding the application to not be "of high merit."

Mr Brough said there was also the issue of timing, with the council set to start construction on the project before the Large-Scale Photovoltaics funding would be dished out - meaning any funding for the project would be retrospective - which would be highly unlikely.

He said it also showed the project could proceed without the funding before expressing his frustration at the council's refusal to work with him to achieve outcomes.

"You're supposed to work together ... it's just infuriating," Mr Brough said.

Through a spokesman, Cr Jamieson yesterday said options to address the council's current ineligibility were being explored before reiterating his frustrations at the support being given to foreign companies.

He said there was no escaping the fact Coast taxpayer dollars were being provided to a foreign company rather than a project owned by Australian taxpayers.

"ARENA and council are now exploring other funding opportunities to support the 15 megawatt utility-scale solar farm ... council is hoping for a favourable outcome," Cr Jamieson said.

Further information on the ineligible application process was not provided by the council yesterday.



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