Business Hunter is more than happy to throw its support behind the region’s proposed offshore wind farm.
The organisation will join a broad cluster of union and community groups at the Railway Sheds, Newcastle Foreshore, on Sunday 4 February, rallying in favour of the controversial project.
From 11am until 2pm, representatives from Business Hunter, Hunter Workers, Australian Conservation Foundation, Hunter Jobs Alliance, City of Newcastle, Maritime Union of Australia, CFMEU Construction, National Tertiary Education Union, Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, Electrical Trades Union, Public Service Association, NSW Teachers Federation, NSW Nurses and Midwives Association, Independent Education Union, Australian Services Union, United Workers Union, Community and Public Sector Union are expected to come together, calling for progressive investigations and consideration to establish an offshore wind energy industry in the region.
“This event is a great opportunity for information exchanges and awareness,” CEO Bob Hawes said.
“Our community and our country are navigating the challenges of generating large scale renewable energy from offshore wind projects for the first time.
“We’re going to confront issues we have not experienced before.
“It’s absolutely essential that we address concerns carefully.
“Also, it is absolutely essential that we research, document and understand in more detail the specifics of offshore wind to understand the scope and focus of concerns before we rule out offshore wind energy on any basis.”
Mr Hawes said large-scale renewable generation projects were critical for the energy evolution… and offshore wind could be an extremely important part of the mix.
“What’s at risk here?” he stated.
“As if we cannot offer business and industry reliable and affordable power into the future, jobs and communities will suffer.
“There’s no question we are currently a long way off the pace, with traditional energy generation assets retiring well before renewables arrive at scale to replace them.
“NSW hasn’t approved a new wind farm since May 2021.
“The market volatility this creates wreaks havoc on pricing and investment decisions, placing terrible pressure on businesses and households.
“We have seen too much evidence of this in the past two years.”
Mr Hawes admitted there was a long way to go before any work started on any part of an offshore renewable wind project, let alone commissioning and operating a plant.
“The opportunity for detailed consultation with the entire community has not been lost and we must get a balance between the need to move forward on the process to investigate and understand the parameters of these projects and program meaningful consultation at the appropriate time,” he said.
“As we move into 2024 and once the government issues feasibility licences, we’ll begin to learn more and start the process of detailed investigation.
“This will offer a clearer picture to inform community conversations and feedback.
“In the meantime, offshore wind proponent businesses are currently investing time, effort and money in responding in good faith to an invitation extended by the Australian Government.
“So, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to halt this process now, particularly on the basis of speculative assessment of what the projects are and what the impacts might be.
“We’d hope and encourage both sides of government to work together to ensure we reach the point where business and the community have greater clarity on what is ahead and on which meaningful and constructive consultation and feedback can be based.”
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