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Council welcomes clear consideration of community for new offshore wind zone

Council welcomes clear consideration of community for new offshore wind zone

Published:
Friday 23 December 2022

Bass Coast Shire Council welcomes the formal announcement by the Federal Government that eastern Bass Strait will become Australia’s first official offshore wind zone, after clearly considering community feedback to adapt plans for the project.

Bass Coast Shire Council Mayor, Cr Michael Whelan, said that Council shared the Federal and State Government’s commitment to renewable energy, offering its in-principle support plus gratitude for listening to the passionate voices of the Bass Coast community on the plans.

Council had provided feedback to the Federal Government in October that the initial offshore windfarm was too close to shore and welcomed the changes announced today, including a 10km buffer zone to reduce the visual impact, size reduction and eastern location.

Council does warn however that rigorous impact assessments, community consultation plus strict environmental protections must still be included.

“Climate change is the biggest threat to our planet and humankind,” Cr Whelan said. “In 2019, in consultation with our community, Council declared a climate emergency to then develop a Climate Change Action Plan, pursuing a community target of zero net emissions by 2030.

“We need every tool available to address the climate crisis, with renewable energy being an essential solution. Council actively supports the responsible expansion of offshore wind as an integral piece of Australia’s renewable energy portfolio, vital to decarbonise our electricity.

“We fully appreciate that the Victorian coastline has significant potential for world-leading offshore wind facilities, plus the considerable benefits this brings, including jobs and infrastructure investment in the region.”

“Council also acknowledges that while offshore wind provides critical benefit to our future by reducing carbon dioxide emissions, like any major infrastructure project, there can be negative impacts.

“The coastlines of Bass Coast, South Gippsland, Wellington, and East Gippsland Shires provide strong, consistent winds, proximity to electricity markets as well as connection to the existing grid and associated industry.

Today’s declared area covers about 15,000 square kilometres offshore from Gippsland, from Lakes Entrance in the east to south of Wilsons Promontory in the west. The Victorian and Commonwealth Governments have stated they will consider the Gippsland coast west of Wilsons Prom over the coming year, including further consultation with Traditional Owners and community feedback on environmental risks.

“We look forward to working with the state and federal governments on responsible and equitable planning of any offshore wind projects in Bass Coast,” Cr Whelan said.

“We urge for strong custodianship of marine ecosystems – with no harm to fisheries, marine mammals, endangered species like the southern right whale, and important habitats. We also insist these plans must consider our visitor dependent economy.”

Learn more about Bass Coast Shire Council’s Climate Action Plan: thecap.com.au