Offshore wind project has Illawarra’s future blowing in the wind

NSW Nationals

The Illawarra is known for its breathtaking beaches, dramatic escarpment, stunning sea views, and thriving tourism and fisheries industry, all built on a strong industrial heritage and a relatively untouched paradise close to Sydney.

But all that could be about to change, after Labor confirmed a new offshore wind zone in the Illawarra over the weekend.

Nationals Leader David Littleproud said he was concerned about the unintended consequences of the project, announced by Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen on Saturday, and Labor’s rush towards 82 per cent renewables by 2030.

It comes after Mr Littleproud and NSW Nationals Senator Ross Cadell met locals to listen to their fears about the project, which will stretch from Wombarra to Kiama.

“The Nationals do not support licencing applications, opening from today, for Labor’s wind farm in the Illawarra,” Mr Littleproud said.

“Minister Bowen claims the project will be smaller in size and further offshore, yet the project will still cover a huge 1,022 square kilometres.

“There has been little community consultation and the project still doesn’t have environmental approvals, despite being on a whale migration path.

“The Nationals are not against renewable energy, but it should be in the right place, such as solar on rooftops in the cities. We have time to pause and to plan and get this right. Rather than destroy the very thing we are trying to protect – the environment – we can also safely adopt nuclear energy as a baseload zero emissions power source that can maintain and grow our standard of living in Australia.

“Labor’s all-renewables approach, costed by Net Zero Australia at $1.5 trillion, will create concentration risk, by putting all our energy eggs in one basket. It won’t underpin manufacturing in this country without continued taxpayer subsidies and it can’t be trusted to even keep household lights on, let alone ensure our marine life will be protected.

“A nuclear power plant has a life of between 80 and 90 years but what will happen when the wind turbines need to come down?”

Senator Cadell said the Illawarra has invested heavily in promoting its picturesque beaches and tourism offering for decades, balanced against its rich manufacturing and industrial heritage.

“Last year, more than 12 million people visited the South Coast region of NSW, including the Illawarra – an increase of 24.1 per cent on the previous year,” Senator Cadell said.

“This resulted in visitor spend of more than $4 billion. Offshore wind projects will leave the Illawarra wearing the scars of Labor’s reckless race, a risk that the growing Illawarra tourism industry can’t afford.”

Responsible Future Illawarra president Jenny Cullen said locals were still against the project.

“We still don’t know what the impact will be on the marine ecosystem, our community deserves due diligence, particularly when the stakes include the pristine waters of our whale migration routes, the livelihoods of our fishing and tourism operators and the integrity of our coastal lifestyle,” Ms Cullen said.

“Our coastal waters should not be an experiment with new technologies, you cannot turn back the clock once the damage is done.

“We advocate for responsible energy development. It is our firm belief that sustainability and economic development must be pursued with a deep respect for the ecological and communal bonds that define our region.”

/Public Release. View in full here.