Solar farm leases

A solar farm is a collection of solar photovoltaic (PV) electricity generation plants comprising a series of solar panels with associated supporting structures (either fixed or tracking), inverters, switchyards, substations, batteries, monitoring equipment, gates and grids, fences, etc.

The power authority will lease the sites of the solar panels (and associated easements) from the proprietors of the affected land. Due to the size and number of solar farms required to generate sufficient electricity, the solar panels usually extend over many adjoining properties each of which require a separate lease.

Lease of a solar farm site will be treated as a lease of premises. Regardless of whether the lease will be for more or less than 25 years, the description in the lease must refer to:

‘Part [title reference] premises known as Solar Farm No. … designated … in DP… together with Easements for …. And …. Shown as ‘Proposed Easement for …. And …. Designated …. And …. In DP….’

As the plan defines 'premises' (being the solar panels) it will not constitute a 'current plan' within the meaning of section 7A Conveyancing Act 1919 and therefore will not require subdivision consent under section 23G Conveyancing Act 1919. Each solar panel site will not be numbered as a lot but will be shown as ‘Solar Farm No. .....' . Easements that benefit a lease affecting land not owned by the lessor (e.g. extensive rights of access through adjoining properties) may also be shown 'proposed' on the deposited plans and can be created by the lodgment of a 'Transfer Granting Easement' dealing. The terms of the easement may include a sunset clause indicating that the easement will extend only for the term of the lease.

Definition on the plan

The position of every solar farm site must be defined in a plan of survey lodged as a Deposited Plan and headed 'Plan for lease purposes of Solar Farms' and each leased area must be labelled by a unique identity, e.g. ‘Solar Farm 1.’

The area of the proposed Solar Lease site must be defined on the Deposited Plan by either a fence line or Proposed fence line and allowances for movement of the solar panels and allowances should be made for movement of the panels.

The terminals of the proposed new leased boundaries and/or each separate lease site must be marked with a reference mark (Schedule 3 Surveying and Spatial Information Regulations 2017). The leased site(s) must be connected to a permanent survey mark and the normal requirements for connections to permanent survey marks apply as per Surveying and Spatial Information Regulations 2017 (including Schedule of Co-ordinates, datum etc.).

Full bearings and distances must be shown for all the boundaries of the leased site. However, the residue does not need to be defined as a lot in the plan.

The plan is exempt from placement of boundary marks set out in clause 28 Surveying and Spatial Information Regulations 2017.

All easement sites should be defined on the plan by survey (unless they comply with compiled plan guidelines). The easements should be shown as 'proposed' on the face of the plan and will be created as part of the terms of the lease.

Any subsequent variation(s) to the leased site position after registration of the lease, will necessitate the preparation of a Surrender of Lease dealing and creation of a new premises lease and a new Deposited Plan.