The Minister for Planning is the responsible authority for new planning permit applications for all energy generation facilities that are 1 megawatt or greater.
This includes both renewable energy facilities and non-renewable energy facilities such as:
- pumped hydro
The Minister for Planning is also the responsible authority for planning permit applications for utility installations. This includes utility installations that send or distribute electricity, such as powerlines, or that store electricity if the installed capacity is 1 megawatt or greater, such as battery storage.
The local council remains responsible for permit applications lodged before 17 September 2019. The Minister for Planning is responsible for applications lodged after that date.
Solar energy amendments
Amendment VC224 (gazetted 28 October 2022) changes the Victoria Planning Provisions and all planning schemes to clarify the Victorian Government’s policy for the protection of declared irrigation districts and update references to the Solar Energy Facilities Design and Development Guideline which has been revised.
Amendment VC192 (gazetted 16 November 2020) changes the Victoria Planning Provisions and all planning schemes to make the Minister the responsible authority for all large energy generation facilities and utility installations.
Amendment VC161 (gazetted 17 September 2019) changes the Victoria Planning Provisions and all planning schemes to introduce new requirements for renewable energy facilities. The Minister for Planning is now the responsible authority for all new renewable energy facilities that are 1 megawatt or greater and associated utility installations.
Amendment VC159 (gazetted 8 August 2019) changes the Victoria Planning Provisions and all planning schemes to introduce and revise land use terms. This included amending the definition of ‘Utility installation’ to include transmit, distribute or store power, including battery storage.
Amendment VC157 (gazetted 15 March 2019) changes the Victoria Planning Provisions and all planning schemes so that a planning permit is required for a power line or substation required to connect an energy generation facility to the electricity network. This does not apply to generators that had planning approval prior to gazettal of the amendment.
Design and Development Guideline
The Victorian Government has developed the Solar Energy Facilities Design and Development Guideline to support the siting, design and assessment of large-scale solar energy facilities in Victoria:
Solar energy facilities in irrigation districts
The Secretary of DELWP (the department administering the Water Act 1989), is a recommending referral authority for permit applications for solar energy facilities within irrigation districts. The Secretary will provide referral advice to the Minister for Planning on referred permit applications in terms of irrigation infrastructure asset management and future planning.
The Solar Energy Facilities Design and Development Guideline (2022) (Guideline) provides guidance on identifying suitable sites in irrigation districts and the importance of seeking assistance from DELWP early in the site selection phase of a project.
The Guideline states that ideally, a solar energy facility should be located to avoid land in a declared irrigation district that is serviced, or was serviced at 17 September 2019, by irrigation infrastructure managed by a rural water corporation, unless the infrastructure has been, or is planned to be, decommissioned.
The Victoria Planning Provisions includes Clause 14.02-3S (Protection of declared irrigation districts). This policy sets out the Victorian Government’s objective to plan and manage for sustainable change within irrigation districts declared under Part 6A of the Water Act 1989.
Further information about solar energy facilities in irrigation districts can be found at:
Planning permit conditions
Model planning permit conditions for solar energy facilities have been developed to assist all parties involved in permit applications:
The model permit conditions should be used for guidance only and should be adapted depending on the individual circumstance of each solar energy proposal.
Solar energy facilities in Victoria
At the start of 2020, Victoria had 9 operating solar energy facilities.
Information about these operating solar energy facilities, as well as information about other projects in Victoria that have lodged a planning permit application, have planning approval, or are under construction, can be found at the solar projects page.
Information about the steps the Victorian Government is taking to ensure the state makes the best use of its abundant solar resource as a renewable energy source can be found at the solar energy page.
Solar energy facilities in Victoria can be viewed on VicPlan, which is one of the Victorian Government's public GIS systems:
- Start VicPlan
- From the main toolbar, go to the ‘Map’ tab and click on the 'Layer Catalogue' button.
- Expand the 'Wind & Solar Farms' folders and select maps by ticking the check-box alongside each layer. Click OK.
- The selected layers will appear on the map and be listed in the layer control panel to the left of the map. You can turn these layers on and off by ticking the relevant check-box.
DELWP provides one free pre-application meeting to applicants. This service is for proposals that have a concept design and where a planning permit application may be lodged shortly. The intention is to identify relevant matters that need further consideration before lodgement.
To arrange a meeting, please complete the Renewable Energy Pre-application Meeting Request form and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org
If your proposal is on land in a declared irrigation district, you are encouraged to seek pre-application advice from representatives of DELWP's Water and Catchments Group (WCG), who can help you understand irrigation infrastructure considerations as well as which rural water corporation you should speak to at the pre-application stage.
For a pre-application meeting with DELWP WCG about irrigation matters, contact email@example.com.
Solar energy facility in irrigation districts
A proponent is strongly encouraged to engage DELWP Water and Catchments Group early in the site selection phase of a project.
DELWP Water and Catchments Group will connect proponents with the relevant rural water corporation who can assist by providing initial site-specific information on whether a proposed site is within a declared irrigation district and serviced by irrigation infrastructure that the rural water corporation manages.
DELWP Water and Catchments Group can also assist proponents by providing advice (based on rural water corporation site-specific information) on appropriate siting considerations with respect to the Guideline and VPP Clause 14.02-3S Protection of declared irrigation districts.
It is important for proponents to know that if the site is a serviced property, has a water use licence in place, and the infrastructure is planned to be retained by the rural water corporation (not decommissioned), then these three factors, collectively, will mean that this site is unlikely to be a suitable location for development of a solar energy facility.
Early engagement will contribute to appropriate site selection decisions which is essential to a project’s success.
For a pre-application meeting with DELWP WCG about a proposed site within an irrigation district, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Native vegetation provides habitat for plants and animals and delivers a range of ecosystem services that make land more productive and contribute to human wellbeing.
In Victoria, a permit is usually required to remove, destroy or lop native vegetation. More information can be found on DELWP’s native vegetation website.
Solar energy resources in Victoria
General information (DELWP)
Victoria has an abundant solar resource and the Victorian Government is taking a range of steps to ensure the state can make the best use of this renewable energy source:
More information can be found at Solar energy (DELWP)
Victorian government departments and agencies
- Contact planning: first point of contact and metropolitan and regional offices
- Environment assessment
- Planning Panels Victoria
- Heritage Victoria
- VicPlan (property reports and other planning information).
Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions
Includes responsibility for agriculture, economy, employment, resources, small business and investment.
A Victorian Government agency, established to accelerate sustainable resource supply and use across the Victorian economy. Their website includes information on a range of sustainability measures.
Administers legislation that protects Aboriginal cultural heritage. Potential impacts of a solar energy facility on Aboriginal cultural values must be considered in the early planning stages of a development.
Useful publications and references
- Ministerial guidelines for assessment of environmental effects under the Environment Effects Act 1978 assist solar energy developers to decide if they should make a referral under the Environment Effects Act 1978
- Submitting a referral under the EPBC Act – A fact sheet for a person proposing to take an action (PDF, 781 KB) assists solar energy developers to decide if they should make a referral under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999
- Community Engagement and Benefit Sharing in Renewable Energy Development: A Guide for Renewable Energy Developers (PDF, 4.5 MB) – Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Victorian Government (authored by T Lane and J Hicks)
- A Guide to Benefit Sharing Options for Renewable Energy Projects, October 2019 (PDF, 3.6MB) – Clean Energy Council
- Community Engagement Guidelines for Building Powerlines for Energy Developments: A guide for proponents, landholders and communities, December 2018 (PDF, 2MB) – Clean Energy Council
- Guidelines for Renewable Energy Installations (PDF, 1.3MB) – Country Fire Authority
- Guidelines for the removal, destruction or lopping of native vegetation (PDF, 1.5MB) – Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Victorian Government
- Protecting Victoria's Environment – Biodiversity 2037 (PDF, 4.9MB) – Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Victorian Government
- The Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 and the Planning Permit Process: Planning Practice Note 45 – Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Victorian Government
- Noise from industry in regional Victoria (PDF, 908 KB) – Environment Protection Authority, Victorian Government
- Environmental guidelines for major construction sites (PDF, 208KB) – Environment Protection Authority, Victorian Government.
- Key contacts for Solar Energy facilities (PDF, 94KB) – Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Victorian Government
Page last updated: 21/11/22