Norah Head Case Study Proves Social Licence is Crucial

Gippsland’s reshaped declared offshore wind area no longer hugs Wilsons Promontory.

ANXIETY amplifies across the Myall Coast, as residents worry their voices may go unheard on the controversial wind farm proposal zone.

When a Hawks Nest information session was run on 9 March by the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water, attendance was barely a dozen residents, despite notice being published in the 2 March edition of NOTA.

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While it appears ‘silence implied consent’, the opposite also holds, as the Central Coast community of Norah Head proved.

Originally the closest land point to the wind farm zone, intense community consolidation, with significant support from all levels of Government, helped affect drastic changes in the recently-declared zone.

“We knew about it, just by chance, only two weeks before the submissions closed,” Mr Anderson, of Love Norah Head community group, told NOTA.

“Our notifications were wrapped up in junk-mail on the driveway.

“We got our message out quickly, using Facebook, and succeeded because we kept badgering the various Government levels.”

Mr Anderson claims that 1300 of the 2000 submissions in March originated from Norah Head, ostensibly verified by their Federal Member Emma McBride’s office.

“Our major concern was marine environment impact; our official Surfing Reserve is asking UNSW for a swell survey, checking the offshore wind farms’ impact on surfing in the National Surfing Reserve at Norah Head.

“Central Coast Council, like all Councils, knew they must submit by 28 April, and they wrote a good objection to the Federal Government, not supporting it from the start, even as all other Hunter zone councils did.”

“It’s not too late,” Mr Anderson reassured.

“The Gippsland community engagement was late but still quite strong, and they got it moved off Wilsons Promontory.

“Developers actually came and spoke to the Norah Head community, realising that they need to gain ‘social licence’, they cannot truly proceed without all communities being onboard.”

Minister Chris Bowen’s office apparently confirms this, stating, “The government will only be licensing projects that work well with existing industry and the environment, and deliver meaningful, long-lasting community benefits.”

By Thomas O’KEEFE

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