Offshore wind zone and environmental assessment a Federal issue

Member for Port Stephens Kate Washington. Photo: Marian Sampson.

AS community angst rises, many have been uncertain about which agencies are responsible for offshore wind proposals and where to take their concerns.

The Federal Minister for Energy and Climate Change, Chris Bowen, is responsible for the offshore zone that has been declared and for awarding licences and contracts.

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The Federal Minister for the Environment will be responsible for the approval of any environmental impact assessments.

Member for Port Stephens Kate Washington told News Of The Area, “I have heard from many people regarding the offshore wind farm and I share many of their concerns.

“So I have raised our community’s concerns directly with the Commonwealth Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water, which is the agency responsible for the process.

“But to be clear, the development of offshore renewable energy is a Commonwealth Government responsibility; it is not the responsibility of the NSW Government.

“So the Member for Paterson, Meryl Swanson, our representative in the Commonwealth Government, will continue to advocate on behalf of our community at her level of Government,” she said.

The Energy Corporation of NSW (EnergyCo) has advised, “The development of offshore renewable energy generation is a matter for the Commonwealth Government under the Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Act 2021.

“Under the NSW Electricity Roadmap, the NSW Government is supporting the private sector to deliver at least 12 GW of onshore renewable energy generation by 2030 to ensure energy security and reliability is maintained as coal-fired power stations close over the next ten to fifteen years.

“Any onshore major renewable energy projects in NSW require planning approval under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 which includes detailed merit assessment and consultation with local communities.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water said, “The Australian Government is committed to setting up an offshore wind industry to unlock renewable energy jobs, energy security and job security.

“But that’s not at any cost – the Government will only be licensing projects that work well with existing industry and the environment, and deliver meaningful, long lasting community benefits.

“Before projects can commence, proponents must seek and receive approval for feasibility licences and comply with strict environmental regulations.

“There are currently no projects underway.

“Applications for feasibility licences in the Hunter close on 14 November 2023.

“These processes will give the community three further opportunities to have their say on individual projects,” they said.

The Federal Minister for the Environment referred the NOTA’s enquiries to Federal Minister for Energy and Climate Change Chris Bowen.


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