Second time unlucky as solar farm misses out on funding

DISAPPOINTED: Mayor Mark Jamieson pictured with Councillor Steve Robinson, says the shovel-ready project was deserving of federal funding.
DISAPPOINTED: Mayor Mark Jamieson pictured with Councillor Steve Robinson, says the shovel-ready project was deserving of federal funding. Brett Wortman

SUNSHINE Coast Council's solar farm project at Valdora has missed out on a second attempt at securing $10 million in Federal Government funding.

The Sunshine Coast solar farm was put forward for the second round of grants of the National Stronger Regions Fund in July, the second attempt to secure funding from the source.

Successful applicants were announced yesterday, the Sunshine Coast solar farm not featuring on the list of applicants that included projects like airport upgrades, regional performing arts centres, regional recreation areas and tourism trails among others.

Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson said it was another example of the Coast missing out on its fair share.

"The Sunshine Coast is the tenth largest region in the country and I don't see a comparable level of investment coming back into the region from the Federal Government," Cr Jamieson said.

"If we want to be serious in this country about fostering innovation and implementing different approaches to dealing with some of our greatest challenges - including climate change - then we need to seriously rethink how and what the government is funding."

Federal Member for Fisher Mal Brough said it had been a very competitive round, with plenty of quality applications,.

He said he was disappointed the council had not heeded his previous advice that the solar farm was not suited to the fund.

"The Mayor and the council made their decision to persist against the best advice," he said.

There was much debate earlier this year as to whether the solar farm or an upgrade of The Events Centre at Caloundra was best suited to the federal fund.

Caloundra Chamber of Commerce president Michael Shadforth said he could see benefits in pursuing funding for both projects, but added it would be nice to see the creative industries supported further on the Coast.

Cr Jamieson said regardless of the outcome, the solar farm project, expected to create 60 full time jobs during construction and at least 160 more once established would proceed, but projects to push for the third round of fund applications were yet to be considered.

He was disappointed given Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's new innovation policy that the solar farm was overlooked again.

"In comparison, the shovel-ready Sunshine Coast Solar Farm is arguably one of the most innovative project applications the National Stronger Regions Fund would have received," Cr Jamieson said.


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