Maitland City Council discuss offshore wind impacts

Maitland City Council councillor Sally Halliday is concerned about the impacts of potential offshore wind development to local industries and the environment.

WITH offshore wind debate playing out in local councils across the Hunter in recent months, last week it was Maitland City Council’s turn.

At the Council’s 27 February meeting, Councillor Sally Halliday moved a motion for Maitland City Council to submit a motion to the 2024 Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) conference noting community concerns over offshore wind, and calling for a moratorium on offshore wind development in NSW until further research and cost-benefit analysis had been completed.

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Cr Halliday’s motion cited perceived impacts from offshore wind development to bird life, local tourism, fishing and research industries, whale migrations, commercial shipping lanes, visual amenity, effects on ocean current and more.

“The primary reason I am putting up this motion is that we cannot destroy our environment – natural, economic and social – to save our environment,” Cr Halliday told councillors at last Tuesday’s meeting.

“It appears to be a paradox, it does not make logical sense, because the construction of industrial turbine sites, while seemingly a step towards clean energy, entails a devastating impact on the natural and the human world.

“At what cost are we supporting the concept of sustainability?”

Cr Halliday described the environmental damage caused by offshore wind development as “far reaching and profound”, claiming installed turbines “displace and kill wildlife”.

Cr Halliday also questioned whether offshore wind locations would be “remediated like coal mines legally have to be” after a wind farm was decommissioned.

In response, Cr Loretta Baker suggested Cr Halliday should “get on a helicopter” and assess the damage caused in the Hunter Valley from coal mining, describing the landscape as a “moonscape of half voids”.

“No wildlife, no flora, not a tree in sight,” she said.

“It (coal mining) has damaged the local tourism up there.

“It has affected air quality, it has affected health, it has affected visual amenity, it has affected every single aspect of life in the Hunter Valley.

“It has not left rehabilitation, it has left a totally denuded landscape.”

Cr Baker then described offshore wind as “the future of local jobs”.

“Whether you like it or not, the fossil fuel industry is going,” she said.

“It’s the future of the local economy, it’s the transition of our skilled workers, it’s where our skills training will take place and it has very low emissions.

“There is absolutely no way that the visual impact and the destruction that fossil fuels have had in the Hunter Valley will be anywhere near replicated by renewables and wind turbines.”

Cr Robert Aitchison described Cr Halliday’s motion as being “basically full of mistruths and generalisations”.

He also stated that the issue of offshore wind was not one for local councils.

“If you have an issue with a Federal issue, take it to your Federal Member.

“Do not bring this here.

“We do not even have a beach.”

The motion was eventually carried after much debate.

Council staff will now submit the motion to the 2024 ALGA Conference.


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