Talks with Minister Bowen over off-shore wind energy

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Council has continued its advocacy over the off-shore wind farm zone in a meeting with Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen.

“When the off-shore wind farm zone was declared Council said it would advocate to ensure the best possible outcome for Warrnambool,” Warrnambool Mayor Cr Blain said.

“The meeting with Minister Bowen in Sydney was an opportunity re-emphasise the community’s concerns and in particular the potential impact on whales, fishing and tourism.

“The minister was receptive, interested and aware of the diverse range of views held in our community towards the off-shore proposal.

“We were also able to raise with the minister points relating to on-shore infrastructure and other opportunities for Warrnambool.

“We must be pragmatic about this. This is not a project over which Council has any statutory authority but we will continue to keep in touch with the minister and the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water to do what we can to get the best possible outcome for our municipality.

“The best possible outcome might mean doing what we can to reduce the visual impact of turbines plus on-shore infrastructure, advocating for jobs to be located in Warrnambool.”

The next stage in the Australian Government’s offshore wind area initiative will involve the issuing of feasibility licences to companies who have expressed an interest in building, installing and operating wind turbines.

“The issuing of a feasibility licence is a step in a process that also involves environmental assessments and further opportunity for community feedback,” Cr Blain said.

South-west Victorian and south-east South Australian communities were engaged with the consultation process run by the Australian Government in relation to the Southern Ocean wind farm zone.

The Southern Ocean proposal received 3285 submissions compared to 765 submissions for the wind farm area off the Gippsland coast.

The Southern Ocean wind farm zone covers 1030sqkm while the zone off Gippsland covers 15,000sqkm.