OPINION: An array of arguments against offshore wind

DEAR News Of The Area,

I AM a Tea Gardens resident and a member of the Port Stephens Great Lakes Marine Park Advisory Committee.

I am also the Treasurer of the Myall Quays Community Association and a member of the Australian Institute of Energy’s Newcastle Branch.

I operated my own company for 25 years assessing public and private infrastructure projects.

I am writing to express my opposition to the proposed location of an offshore wind farm project off the MidCoast and Port Stephens area of NSW.

I am aware that this project is a federal government initiative but it is also my understanding that, if power cables from this project come ashore, then those cables and supporting infrastructure come under the control of the NSW Government.

There are a number of strong arguments why the NSW MidCoast area is a poor location for this proposed facility.
Newcastle Port is one of the busiest bulk shipping ports in the world.

Newcastle Port has started development of its container terminal on Kooragang Island which is now operating and will grow greatly in volume in the future.

This will result in increasing shipping movements in and out of the Port.

A container terminal in Newcastle has huge potential to service northern NSW goods and container traffic via our excellent road and rail connections to the port.

The Inland Rail Project between Melbourne and Brisbane has suffered massive cost increases since starting and may not be completed due to these cost blowouts.

Goods traffic carried on the completed section of the Inland Rail line as well as the rest of the northern NSW rail network could easily and efficiently be transported by sea in and out of Newcastle container terminal.

The federal government is currently spending $160 million to further develop Newcastle Airport into an international airport facility to enhance local produce exports from the MidCoast region as well as international and domestic tourism.

Newcastle and the Hunter are enjoying strong growth in domestic and international tourism and its fantastic scenic appeal could be damaged in the longer term by the proposed offshore wind farm.

The Port Stephens area is an international standard scenic area of incredible natural beauty and would be adversely impacted by any offshore wind farm arrangement.

There are thousands of vessels travelling up and down the Australian east coast each year which could also be adversely affected by the offshore wind farm project.

The 300 odd wind towers will not be embedded in the ocean bottom but will be tethered by chains and anchors to the seafloor – what happens if one or more of these towers breaks loose in a big storm?

We get regular major storm events off the NSW Mid Coast and Novocastrians and local residents can clearly remember when the Pasha Bulker was blown ashore at Newcastle a decade ago.

Bulk carriers and container vessels move quickly across the ocean and can come from the horizon to where you are in 20 minutes – what happens if a loose wind tower collides with a travelling vessel in a major storm event?

It is obvious that the federal government is ignoring adverse local opinion and resident opposition to this offshore windfarm project because we have a small local population and are seen as a “safe” Labor electorate.

As greater Sydney is the major regional user of power in NSW, why shouldn’t this offshore wind farm be located closer to Sydney?

One can just hear the screams if it was proposed to build this project off Palm Beach in northern Sydney or off the eastern suburbs – just imagine Bondi Rescue being filmed with dozens of wind towers in the ocean off the beach area!

It is apparent that the federal government is treating our local residents opposed to this project with contempt as we have a small regional population and “just don’t matter”.

The cost of building and operating these offshore wind “factories” is much higher than the cost of land based wind facilities and hence the cost to be charged for the power from them will be much higher than from alternative sources.

No matter who produces any product or service for the market, in the end someone has to buy that commodity.

It appears to me that the big driver of the international interest in these offshore electric “factories” would be the carbon credits and clean energy certificates that the investors could sell in the market to polluters to offset their carbon emissions.

It is interesting to note that Fortescue Metals Group Ltd announced on 26 October in their September 2023 Quarterly Production Report that they have completed the acquisition of the Phoenix Hydrogen Hub in the USA where Phase One proposes an 80 MW electrolyser and liquefaction facility.

They further announced that, from FY24 onwards, Fortescue will no longer buy voluntary offsets unless required by law, with the funds saved reallocated to the Company’s own decarbonisation plan and, in October 2023, Fortescue opened a new zero emission battery factory in Kidlington, UK.

For these practical reasons I regard the proposed offshore wind farm in the MidCoast region as poorly sited and urge its relocation away from our magnificent environmental treasure that is the Port Stephens and MidCoast area.

Yours faithfully,
Tea Gardens.

2 thoughts on “OPINION: An array of arguments against offshore wind

  1. Hi Chris,
    Well written and I note your concerns.
    A lot of my concerns are financial and environmental, you may be able to help me.
    1, Todays cost of a turbine from wow to go, manufacturing, installation, maintenance, projected lifespan, decommissioning and removal.
    2. Estimated Amount of electricity generated over its lifespan compared to cost against income of energy sales, so is there a break even or just a large loss?
    3. Now how about environmental issues.
    Ocean floor degradation for both flora and fauna, whaling and fishing interference, shipping lane changes, changes in ocean currents and wind interference.!!
    Where are some studies on all this.?
    Some of my concerns Chris.
    Oh, where the hell are our ‘Green’ friends?
    Thanks, Richard.

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