SPEECH: Consultation open on Wind Farm Zone
23 March 2023
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Newcastle Electorate: Renewable Energy
Ms CLAYDON (Newcastle—Deputy Speaker) (16:55): Newcastle and the Hunter region have powered Australia for generations and will continue to do so well into the future. As a proud Novocastrian I understand this. So does the Albanese Labor government.
We know that carbon-intensive regions like Newcastle and the Hunter are ideally placed to take full advantage of the opportunities that come with renewable energy. That's why I am so excited that consultations for an offshore wind zone off the Newcastle coast are currently open. Community consultation sessions have already begun, with at least two face-to-face sessions in my electorate of Newcastle and an additional five that were held further north and south along the coastline. I'd like to thank those Novocastrians who took up this chance to hear directly from experts and to have their voices heard. I know there has been some concern about the potential impact of offshore wind on marine and bird life, and I want to reassure my constituents that around the world offshore wind farms do co-exist with wildlife—with whales, with migrant sea life and with birds. The proposed offshore wind zone, which is currently on display for public comment, follows initial analysis of marine topology, vessel traffic and sensitive environmental or defence areas.
Part of the consultation process is to ensure that any infrastructure built within that proposed zone will have minimal impacts on marine users, the environment and wildlife. Following feedback from the community, the proposed area may need to be adjusted before a final offshore wind area is in fact declared, and there are a number of further steps to go through before any infrastructure can be built. Any company looking to establish an offshore renewable energy project is required to demonstrate how they will comply with the conditions of approval and environmental obligations under Australia's Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. This act provides a legal framework to protect and manage unique plants, animals, habitats and spaces, including marine areas. Potential developers will also need to submit a management plan to the Offshore Infrastructure Regulator. This process ensures that any developments manage risks in an environmentally acceptable way that also mitigates and minimises impacts on the environment and wildlife. I reassure the community that this is a genuine consultation process. I encourage all residents and all interested people to look at the map and to consider what it looks like, consider the implications for you and our community and then make a submission. They are open until 28 April.