A World Heritage listed site is looking to a new form of farming to meet energy demand after the completion of a multi-million dollar visitor centre: solar.
The Woolmers Foundation, which manages Woolmers Estate at Longford, has lodged retrospective plans with the Northern Midlands council for a $160,000 solar power system to help power the Nigel Peck Centre - completed last year.
The application includes four north-facing solar panel arrays located in the former orchard, now an open paddock near the main entry road, above the new centre. This comes after an initial referral under the federal Environmental Biodiversity and Protection Act in April.
The plans show the array would be connected the the centre by an underground power line.
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"With the new centre in full use the requirements for power have substantially increased and renewable forms of energy supply have been required," a Heritage Impact Assessment from Gayle Plunkett Architect provided with the application states.
A bund area, intended to conceal as much as the centre's infrastructure as possible, had already been filled, leaving only the open areas available for the installation of the system. Though the assessment found both the Gardener's and Woolmers Cottage would be be impacted physically or visually.
"Whilst not consistent as a traditional farming activity, solar farms are a modern translation for a new farming activity," it continues.
As the array could potentially be seen from the entry road, the planting of small trees or hedges - believed to have existed along the road in the 1840s - was suggested as a method for reducing the visual impact.
Conducted in April, the assessment notes that lighting and heating requirements for the publicly accessible gallery and restaurant areas in particular have cause "major budgetary concerns".
"The board and management research possible alternatives and variations of usage and the conclusion was that cost-effective renewable forms of energy supply need to be utilised for Woolmers Foundation Inc to maintain some control over power usage and costs," it says.
The planning application is open for public comment until June 24.
The Nigel Peck Centre opened on February 8, 2018, intending to provide modern facilities for visitors and attractions to encourage the community, following the site's World Heritage listing in 2010.
Nigel Peck, the great-great-grandson of Thomas Archer I, the original owner of Woolmers, was a strong financial backer for the facility but passed away before its completion.
In creating the new centre, Mr Peck hoped to increase the earning capacity of Woolmers in order to preserve the history for future generations.
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