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Hunter offshore wind project opens door to job, investment opportunities

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Novocastrian Offshore Wind partners Oceanex and Equinor have welcomed the news the Hunter will be home to Australia’s next offshore wind energy sector.

Federal Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen confirmed on Thursday 23 February the region would become the industry’s first designated zone in NSW, opening the door to countless new job opportunities and investment.

The Hunter is one of six priority locations around Australia with world-class offshore wind potential, along with the recently-declared Gippsland, off the La Trobe Valley, Illawarra, Portland in Victoria, Tasmania and Perth/Bunbury.

Federal Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen. Photo: Rod Thompson

“The world’s climate emergency offers a bright possibility for regional Australia,” said Mr Bowen, accompanied by Newcastle federal MP Sharon Claydon, Newcastle state MP Tim Crakanthorp, Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes, Hunter Jobs Alliance coordinator Warwick Jordan, Hunter Workers representative Jack Galvin-Waight and Glen Williams from the Maritime Union of Australia.

“And, the Hunter is uniquely placed to capitalise on this.

“An offshore wind zone in the Hunter presents significant opportunities to create new energy sector and manufacturing jobs, drive economic growth and reduce emissions.”

Business and community input is now being sought for the $10 billion project.

“I’m encouraging residents from across the Hunter to have their say on the proposed area and what they would like to see from this offshore zone,” Mr Bowen said.

“I look forward to hearing from the community about the best way offshore electricity can be harnessed in the region.

“So, what they say is important for this process.”

Newcastle state MP Tim Crakanthorp, Newcastle federal MP Sharon Claydon and Federal Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen. Photo: Rod Thompson

Oceanex has spent the past three years preparing plans for the Novocastrian Offshore Wind project.

“Today is a welcome step,” chief executive officer Andy Evans said.

“We congratulate Chris Bowen and the Commonwealth on the speed of this announcement.

“Making sure we arrive at a position where we have a viable offshore wind energy sector in the Hunter will require tremendous investment and effort to make sure we have the supply chains and workforces ready.

“The Hunter already has the mindset, infrastructure and workforce needed to accelerate progress towards developing a new offshore wind industry.

“We want to leverage this potential as much as possible to enable the Novocastrian Offshore Wind Farm to enter construction phase this decade – and that regional workers and businesses play a key part.”

Newcastle state MP Tim Crakanthorp. Photo: Rod Thompson

Equinor country representative Thomas Hansen admitted the Hunter was an attractive area for the development of offshore wind projects.

“That’s mainly due to the strong wind resources, energy demand, infrastructure, industrial capabilities and workforce already there,” he said.

“Projects in NSW require the use of floating technology given water depths, an area where Equinor is a world leader operating two-thirds of the world’s floating offshore wind capacity with more than a decade of operational experience.”

Hunter Jobs Alliance coordinator Warwick Jordan, Hunter Workers representative Jack Galvin-Waight, Newcastle state MP Tim Crakanthorp, Newcastle federal MP Sharon Claydon, Federal Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen, Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes and Maritime Union of Australia’s Glen Williams. Photo: Rod Thompson

Cr Nelmes also backed the move.

“A renewable energy industry built on large-scale offshore wind farms will offer a sustainable new future for Newcastle, which was once home to Australia’s first large scale, land-based single wind turbine at Kooragang Island,” she said.

“City of Newcastle has a long history of supporting and implementing renewable energy projects, including becoming the first local government in NSW to move to 100% renewable electricity.

“We are committed to transitioning towards a low carbon economy to ensure future generations can continue to enjoy our city and region, and believe that a mix of renewables, including offshore wind, is essential to achieving this target. 

“Offshore wind also provides the perfect opportunity to diversify Newcastle’s economy by pivoting thousands of jobs in the local manufacturing, construction, maritime, transport and logistics industries into the renewable energy sector. 

“In addition, the accessibility of the Port of Newcastle and our existing local skills base would allow offshore wind to precipitate the emergence of a new renewable energy industry in Newcastle and the Hunter. 

“This can unlock billions in new investment in renewable energy infrastructure and pave the way for our city to become the renewable energy hub for the Asia-Pacific region.”

Hunter Workers representative Jack Galvin-Waight, Newcastle state MP Tim Crakanthorp, Newcastle federal MP Sharon Claydon, Federal Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen and Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes. Photo: Rod Thompson

Cr Nelmes said the offshore wind industry offered many potential benefits for Newcastle.

But, she was mindful of the need for measures to be put in place to protect and deliver local jobs, and consider any potential impacts on visual amenity and the marine environment. 

“With the correct legislative and regulatory framework, offshore wind along the coast of Newcastle can play a significant role in sustaining our state’s future energy needs and provide a significant boost to the local economy,” Cr Nelmes said. 

“However, its development must be done with guarantees in place that it would preference the employment of local workers and use of local materials for the benefit of our communities.”

The consultation process is a chance for all workers, residents, industry groups and chambers of commerce to provide feedback.

Submissions will run from now until 28 April.

The Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water is also scheduled to facilitate information sessions throughout the region.

For more information on the Hunter offshore electricity area public consultation, visit https://consult.dcceew.gov.au/oei-hunter.

Information sessions

Wamberal (Monday 6 March)

  • 2pm to 4pm: Breakers Country Club, Dover Road

Doyalson (Tuesday 7 March)

  • 10.30am to 12.30pm: The Doylo, Pacific Highway

Swansea (Tuesday 7 March)

  • 4pm to 6pm: Swansea RSL, Bridge Street

Newcastle 1 (Wednesday 8 March)

  • Noon to 2pm: Newcastle City Library, War Memorial Cultural Centre, Laman Road

Newcastle 2 (Wednesday 8 March)

  • 4pm to 7pm: Bar Beach Bowling Club – Terrace, Kilgour Ave, Merewether

Hawks Nest (Thursday 9 March)

  • 11am to 1pm: Hawks Nest Community Centre, Booner Street

Nelson Bay (Thursday 9 March)

  • 5pm to 7pm: Nelson Bay Bowling Club, Stockton Street

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