By Matthew Kelly

May 2, 2023 – 5:00am

Hunter residents back offshore wind

More than 1900 submissions were received during a three-month community consultation process for the proposed Hunter Offshore Wind zone.

The majority of the submissions received by the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment were from the Central Coast (38.3 per cent) followed by Lake Macquarie (17.6 per cent) and Newcastle (15.5 per cent).

Almost 94 per cent of the submissions were from individuals.

Seventy per cent of the submissions contained comments about the environment including fishing and visual impacts.

The Committee for the Hunter expressed strong support for the project, which would be situated between 10 and 50 kilometres off the coast and be capable of producing the equivalent energy of the region’s fleet of coal-fired power stations.

“The Committee, our members and partners are aligning on a vision for the Hunter’s transformation,” the committee’s submission said.

“A future where the level of jobs, Gross Regional Product and energy currently provided by coal industries are maintained, if not exceeded by new business and enterprise, as our economy changes. We know that zero emissions must be built into our development trajectory to remain competitive and safe.”

“A large, thriving offshore renewable energy industry and associated value chains offers an at-scale opportunity to replace jobs, economic activity, energy generation and reduce emissions as the contribution of coal to the regional economy declines.”

Hunter residents back offshore wind

The government’s current proposed zone takes in a 2810 square kilometre area extending from Norah Head to Port Stephens.

Climate Change and Energy minister Chris Bowen will consider the submissions before deciding whether to approve or modify the proposal.

The Maritime Union of Australia, the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union and the Electrical Trades Union are urging the government to extend the project south to Terrigal and increase the area located in shallow water (up to 300 metres).

They argue this would not only enable the project to be built quicker but it would also reduce construction costs, which would ultimately be passed on to consumers.

The unions’ proposal would increase the overall area of the zone by about 30 per cent.

Mr Bowen said he would consider the submission.

“I will look at all the submissions. I get a weekly update on how all of the submissions are going. The consultations have been going well,” he said during a visit to Liddell Power station last week.

“There’s been a lot of community interaction and of course there are a range of views. Some would like more offshore wind. I get that, but we need to get the balance right.”