Just one day after the federal Parliament passed the Albanese government’s emissions reduction target of 43% by 2030, Federal Energy Minister Chris Bowen has announced consultation will begin immediately on Australia’s first offshore wind zone off the Gippsland coast.
The announcement comes after years of delay on offshore wind by the previous federal Coalition government.
Environment organisation Friends of the Earth has welcomed the news, and says kickstarting an offshore wind sector in Gippsland will be a game changer for action on climate change while creating thousands of new job opportunities and a new source of energy.
“Offshore wind will play a key role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions while creating thousands of new jobs and significant local investment, and Gippsland could soon be at the forefront of this new industry” said Wendy Farmer, Friends of the Earth community organiser.
Research commissioned by Friends of the Earth in 2021 found that building the offshore wind farm Star of the South alone has the potential to create as many as 1,400 jobs during construction and up to 600 direct ongoing jobs.
There are now at least five offshore wind projects proposed off the Gippsland coast, with almost 9 gigawatts of offshore wind on the table.
There’s no time to waste.
“Now that the Yallourn coal fired power station has announced it will close by 2028 we’re in a race against time to kickstart offshore wind for Gippsland’s energy future” said Wendy Farmer.
“With consultations on offshore wind getting started, this is a great opportunity for the Gippsland region to come together to ask questions, have their voices heard, and help shape the country's first offshore wind zone” added Farmer.
Friends of the Earth will be launching a series of community conversations about Gippsland’s offshore wind future to make sure regional communities have a stake in this exciting new sector.
The beginning of a whole new industry is an opportunity to get offshore wind right. This must include strong protections for nature and cultural heritage.
Minister Bowen also announced the Albanese government plans for offshore wind zones off the coast of five other regions including the Hunter and Illawarra in NSW, Portland in Victoria, Northern Tasmania, and Perth/Bunbury in WA.
According to the government, details of the five other regions and the public consultation processes will be announced in due course.
A national plan to establish an offshore wind industry in Australia would help ensure the benefits of this new sector flow to the community.
Not all oceans will be appropriate for offshore wind development, and extensive consultation will be critical.
Pat Simons, Yes2Renewables Coordinator
0415 789 961
Wendy Farmer, Gippsland Community Organiser
0408 261 551