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Hunter Offshore Wind
         Let's talk about it

Future Australia needs more energy, more jobs, & more economic opportunity. 

Australia, and the Hunter region, is changing. Changes in our economy, industry, and technology could leave us without the energy and jobs we vitally need for our communities to thrive. 

 

Responsibly establishing Hunter offshore wind industry is an opportunity for us to meet our needs, which is why, after careful consideration and extensive consultation, the Federal government declared an area off the coast of Port Stephens as suitable for future offshore wind development.

What's happening?

The Federal government declared an area in the Pacific Ocean off the Hunter, NSW, as suitable for future offshore wind development on 12 July, 2023, after undertaking public consultation earlier in the year. 

  • In the public consultation period 1800+ applications were received, showing significant support from local communities, First Nations people, Unions, community groups, industry & business, and local & state governments.

The declared Hunter area:

  • Covers 1,854 square kilometres between the Central Coast and Port Stephens

  • Is 20 km from the coast in the north and over 35 km from the coast in the south

  • Has the potential to generate up to 5 gigawatts of renewable wind energy, enough to power an estimated 4.2 million homes

  • Has potential for offshore wind projects in the area to create up to 3,120 construction jobs and another 1,560 ongoing operational jobs.

Hunter offshore declaration area

In August, the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water began to accept submissions for feasibility license applications, closing in November.

  • Being granted a feasibility license is not permission to begin construction.

  • No projects are yet to be approved, nor have any feasibility licences been issued.

  • If granted feasibility licenses, licensees must undertake further detailed environmental assessment, surveying, and stakeholder consultation.

  • Licensees must develop a management plan approved by the Offshore Infrastructure Regulator.

  • Following these processes, developers may apply for a commercial license to commence construction. 

  • This entire process is extensive and will take several years to conclude.

2023 Timeline

23 February to 28 April, 2023: The Federal Government opened public consultation for Hunter offshore wind.

12 July, 2023: The Federal government declared an area off the coast of the Hunter region as suitable for future offshore wind development.

8 August, 2023: The period for developers to submit feasibility licence applications for proposed Hunter offshore wind projects began, to close on 14 November, 2023.

The government will consider the submissions, and Minister Chris Bowen will decide likely next year whether to grant feasibility licences to developers.

License holders must conduct further assessment, consultation and planning. 

License holders will then need to apply for a commercial licence to begin construction. 

Why offshore wind?

Better for the planet

  • With stringent planning and environmental assessment, offshore wind has less environmental impact than almost any other energy source.

  • Unlike other energy sources, wind energy produces zero greenhouse gas emissions and is inexhaustible.

Better for communities

  • Wind power provides far better economic opportunity and jobs for local communities than other proposed energy industries.

  • Placing wind turbines offshore instead of onland reduces the pressure on farms and forests, and frees up land for other important uses like agriculture or housing

Better value

  • Offshore wind produces electricity far cheaper than other types of power, e.g., nuclear and can be implemented faster, too.

  • Offshore wind turbines produce more electricity than onshore due to increased wind conditions.​​

Why here?

The Hunter region is the ideal location for wind power because we are close to necessary energy infrastructure and supporting industry.

The region is also facing huge economic and industrial change in coming years, making offshore wind a great opportunity to build stronger and more prosperous communities, and create quality, secure jobs.

What do
environmentalists say?

Environmental groups and activists affirm offshore wind generation will contribute to a vital reduction in carbon emissions, ultimately combating climate change and rising ocean temperatures while protecting Australia’s precious marine ecosystems.

Responsibly transitioning away from non-renewables to offshore wind will drastically reduce our impact on the environment. 

Environmental groups and activists are committed to ensuring that stringent environmental assessment, planning, and comprehensive risk mitigation is undertaken in the development process to guarantee the best possible outcome and the lowest possible impact and risk.

It's worth noting that though politicians like Peter Dutton are claiming their opposition of offshore wind is based in concern for environmental impact, their actions and goals reflect very differently. In May, the Coalition called for law changes that would make it easier for companies to seismic blast and drill offshore. If Peter Dutton was concerned about the potential environmental impacts of major offshore projects, he'd be calling for the strengthening of these laws, not the opposite. 

Additionally, Dutton's alternative power "solution" reveals his blatant hypocrisy and incompetence: The Coalition is, disturbingly, advocating that nuclear power be established as an alternative energy source in the Hunter region, despite there being no solution for toxic nuclear waste.

 

"When done right, offshore wind is a huge part of the solution to climate change. It causes significantly less environmental impact than offshore oil and gas drilling, and is subject to strict environmental regulations.

 

We must transition to 100% clean energy as quickly as possible. Offshore wind presents a huge opportunity for local communities and will have positive environmental outcomes assessed and located appropriately."

Jacqui Mumford,  

NSW Nature Conservation Council CEO

What's the truth?

Misinformation and "fake news" on offshore wind is rife on social media. 

Disingenuous politicians are actively spreading misinformation in at attempt to push their own policy agendas (for example, nuclear plants in the Hunter) and to win votes by stoking fear and anger.

Internationally, anti-wind campaigns and the production of misleading content are being funded by coal, oil and gas companies

Locally, falsified articles purporting to be published in academic journals have circulated on social media spreading false claims about the impact of Hunter offshore wind.

Watch out for these tricks:

  • Scare tactics: It is harder to accurately assess the veracity of information when the message targets the fears and anxieties of the reader. E.g., Highlighting/exaggerating potential catastrophic outcomes with little basis

  • Selective information: Scientific information is easily cherry picked or falsely construed. Always assess the source and its credibility/reputation among experts. E.g., Only sharing outdated or non-peer reviewed studies

  • Exaggerating support: Using various tactics to make an opinion seem more popular than it actually is can make that view appear more reasonable and legitimate. E.g., Exaggerating rally attendance numbers

What's the alternative?

If offshore wind is not established in the Hunter region, a different power source would need to be utilised. 

Peter Dutton has called for nuclear to be established, despite the exorbitantly higher cost of nuclear energy and the far longer construction time.

  • If nuclear was to be established, we would not be able to meet our energy needs or emissions reduction target in time.

  • There is still no solution to nuclear waste.

  • In order to produce enough energy, we would need many nuclear plants placed around Australia and near most population bases.

 

"In Australia, promises to create a nuclear power industry from scratch based on as yet unproven technologies and in competition with cheap renewables is simply delusional."

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