Illawarra residents have at least two months to learn about the proposed wind farm development zone off our coast, ask questions and provide feedback to the Federal Government.
The Federal Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen announced details of the renewable energy zone during a visit to Port Kembla this week.
The proposed area is 1461 square kilometres, at least 10 km out from shore and up to 30 km off Kiama’s coast. It will have the potential to generate up to 4.2 GW, enough to power up to 3.4 million homes.
The zone extends from Wombarra in the north to Kiama but the exact location and number of turbines is yet to be determined. They will be visible to the shore depending on where they are being viewed from, and their height.
Public consultation is open until 16 October, and will include six community information sessions across the region. The Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW) has created a comprehensive website – with more information about location, visual amenity, environmental impacts, and how a wind farm zone would impact shipping and fishing. Residents can provide feedback through a submission on the site.
A list of frequently asked questions addresses many of the issues that have already been raised in the community.
The Minister considers public submissions, ongoing feedback from Government agencies and stakeholders, before making a decision whether to declare all of the area, some, or not declare the area at all.
Once an area is declared, applications are opened for feasibility licences for developments, which are assessed against a merit criteria.
Similar consultation was held in the Hunter earlier this year on its proposed offshore wind farm, which will target the generation of 12 GW of energy. Individuals and organisations made 1916 submissions on the proposal, with 66 per cent opposed to it. As a result of the feedback, the proposed area of the zone was reduced.
Mr Bowen encouraged Illawarra residents to learn about and have their say on the local proposal.
“The Illawarra was identified for its strong offshore wind resource, major port infrastructure and role as an industrial and manufacturing hub looking to transform to greater renewable generation and thrive in a changing global economy,” he said.
“The region has a diverse and skilled workforce, and the introduction of an offshore wind industry will bolster its existing strengths and spearhead the economic opportunities of the energy transformation.”
Mr Bowen said the development would deliver up to 2500 jobs in construction and 1250 ongoing jobs.
“Offshore wind is energy rich and jobs rich but despite having some of the best wind resources in the world, Australia doesn’t currently have any offshore wind,” he said.
“This presents a huge economic opportunity for the regions that help power Australia – like the Illawarra, to continue to power our nation for generations to come.
“This is a genuine consultation and I encourage all community members to get involved and have their say on the proposed zone.”
Meanwhile, NSW Ports CEO Marika Calfas welcomed Mr Bowen’s announcement and said Port Kembla would be essential for delivering offshore wind projects to support the state’s growing renewable energy demand.
“NSW Ports has already launched concept plans for a large-scale port facility at Port Kembla’s Outer Harbour which demonstrate how the port can be used to support the rapidly emerging offshore wind sector in the coming years,” she said.
“NSW Ports stands ready to work with the NSW and Federal Governments on measures to provide investment certainty for offshore wind projects – and the usage of our port facilities – to underpin future infrastructure needs.
“The announcement demonstrates the Federal Government’s commitment to offshore wind in the Illawarra and is a critical step for industry to progress projects that will help deliver a more sustainable energy future.”
In addition to the Illawarra, the Hunter and the Southern Ocean, the Government has previously announced the Bass Strait region off Northern Tasmania, and the Indian Ocean region off Perth/Bunbury as further regions earmarked for offshore wind zones.
Information sessions will be held from 18-21 September at Bulli, Port Kembla, Warrawong, Shellharbour, Kiama and Gerringong. Full details are available on the Illawarra website.