Federal Government offshore wind farm info hits Harvey

Craig DuncanHarvey-Waroona Reporter
The area proposed by the Federal Government to be used as an offshore renewable field.
Camera IconThe area proposed by the Federal Government to be used as an offshore renewable field. Credit: Supplied/RegionalHUB

The Federal Government proposal to develop an offshore wind farm has sent ripples through the South West, with hot-headed rage and general confusion ripe within the region’s communities.

Unlike the rage that permeated through a community meeting in Binningup on March 16, or the community information sessions running in Bunbury that have been described as chaotic, Thursday’s session in Harvey was commendably calm.

Community members took their chance to talk to the experts about their concerns with representatives from the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water, Geoscience Australia and the Offshore Infrastructure Regulator all present.

The final community drop-in session was hosted in Mandurah on Thursday evening, with other sessions being run in Bunbury, Busselton and Harvey in the past week.

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The general consensus from the public was concern about the environmental and social impacts of the proposal.

Many wanted to know why the specific location was selected, given its proximity to marine parks and the South West’s iconic coastline.

Some expressed frustration, wanting to know if other locations had been considered and questioning why they have not seen any alternative sites proposed by the Federal Government.

Others stressed nuclear power would be a better investment for WA, stating the nuclear power ban should be lifted. They believed the ecological footprint of a single power station would be significantly less than the proposed offshore area.

The most frequently questioned aspect of this project was its environmental impact, with opposition stating the added noise pollution in known whale habitats will disorient whales and the wind turbines could be a threat to seabirds — native or migrating to Australia.

The Federal Government has not looked into the environmental impacts of this project because it is only in the early stages of public consultation.

An in-depth environmental assessment is expected to be conducted during the second stage of development, with further opportunity for community feedback at that time.

The project is one of six planned around Australia, with other offshore renewable areas being investigated in Gippsland Victoria, Hunter NSW, Illawarra NSW, the Southern Ocean Victoria and the Bass Strait Tasmania.

The proposed WA site will be the third biggest of these areas at about 7500sq km allocated for this renewable field.

DCCEEW has received more than 14,000 public submissions since February, with consultation closing on May 3.

Public submissions can be made at https://consult.dcceew.gov.au/oei-bunbury.

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