Australian Gov’t Approves Reduced Wind Zone Offshore Illawarra After Community Concerns

The federal government of Australia has declared an area in the Pacific Ocean off Illawarra, New South Wales (NSW), as the country’s fourth offshore wind energy development zone, with the final area size reduced following community concerns.

The Illawarra offshore wind zone stretches from Stanwell Park to Kiama and covers 1,022 square kilometres instead of the initially planned 1,461 square kilometres.

Illawarra Australia
Source: Australian Department of Climate Change

The zone will be located about 20 kilometres from the state’s coastline, twice the originally proposed distance of ten kilometres.

The offshore wind generation that the area can produce was also reduced from the original 4.2 GW to 2.9 GW.

The offshore wind zone has been amended following an extensive community consultation with local leaders, industry unions, First Nations people, community groups, and individuals.

The area now avoids significant environmental areas including marine parks, a biologically important area for the Little Penguin, the Shelf Rocky Reef, and the Southern Right Whale Migration and reproduction area, according to the government.

Amending the zone so that it commences 20 kilometres from the coast and excluding significant environmental areas is a sensible compromise that reflects the majority of community opinion while helping to achieve our shared goals of more renewable energy, more jobs and fewer emissions,” said Member for Cunningham Alison Byrnes.

“Of course the declaration of a zone is not the final step. There is now an extensive process of studies and approvals that will be required but this is a positive step for a region that wants to secure its industrial future and power it using clean energy.”

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Following the declaration, the zone will be open to feasibility licence applications which will be accepted between 17 June and 15 August.

According to the government, the zone will bring new employment opportunities to the Illawarra, creating an estimated 1,740 new jobs during construction and 870 ongoing jobs, including engineers, technicians, operators, riggers, seafarers, dockworkers, project managers, and administrators.

“My expectation is that all proponents not only make sure that their projects meet the highest environmental standards but also incorporate local content, including the use of locally produced steel, and local workforce and develop a strong benefit sharing scheme so that our community meaningfully benefits from hosting an offshore wind farm should one be developed,” said Byrnes.

In February 2023, the government of New South Wales declared the Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) in the Illawarra region as the fifth and final REZ to be declared of the first five zones identified under the NSW Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap.

Australia had previously designated wind zones in the Hunter region of NSW, as well as in Gippsland and the Southern Ocean regions of Victoria.


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