NSW Is Scoring Another Wind Farm — But the Turbine Debate Keeps Going Round

In 2019, Tony Abbott said that wind farms were the “dark satanic mills of the modern era.” The Prime Minister at the time called them ugly, awful, and a spoil on our landscape. 

However, this opinion has aged like sour onions. Wind turbines were stunning in 2019, and they’re stunning now. They are both architecture and monuments. Their lux arms backstroke through the wind, symbolising a future where our coastline doesn’t drown.  

It’s therefore a relief that Abbot’s words didn’t permanently sway the tides of history. Our wind farms continue to flourish and new ones are still being built. 

This brings us to some 2023 news. The Federal Government has just greenlit the construction of another wind farm in NSW. Here are the details you should know.

NSW’s Hunter Wind Farm

Port Stephens
Image: Getty Images

On 12 July, the Australian Government determined that a wind farm can be built in NSW’s Hunter region. This wind farm will be in the Pacific Ocean, between the Central Coast and Port Stephens. It’ll be around 1854 sq km big.

According to our Minister for Climate Change, Chris Bowen, this wind farm will be a slay for the residents of the Hunter region. 

“It will create a lot of jobs in the Hunter, which is an area undergoing strong economic change with the move away from coal-fired power stations,” said Bowen.

“We need to create jobs of the future in regions like the Hunter.”

This NSW wind farm is estimated to create up to 3120 construction jobs and 1560 ongoing jobs. It will also generate up to five gigawatts of renewable power, which is enough electricity to sustain an estimated 4.2 million homes.

The Central Coast’s Reaction

Norah Head
Image: Visit NSW

When this wind farm was originally proposed, it received some community pushback. No, it wasn’t because the locals consider wind farms “satanic mills.” Some communities were concerned that the wind farm was a bit too close to the Norah Head shore.

Norah Head is a beloved surfing reserve. A number of folks were worried that a wind farm would damage the area’s surfing conditions and marine wildlife

Fortunately, some of these concerns were worked through during the public consultation period. After receiving feedback, the Federal Government determined that its wind farm shouldn’t be near Norah Head. The wind farm was then moved from being 10m from Norah Head’s shoreline to being 20m from the shore. 

This change was welcomed by the Norah Head National Surfing Reserve. However, their spokesperson, David Stedman, wants some more oceanic research to be done before this wind farm gets underway. 

“While this removes some impacts of concern on the Norah Head National Surfing Reserve, we would still like more studies to be done on the impact to swell to our reserve,” said Stedman.

“Understanding the possible effects of the wind farm on these reserves is crucial in order to protect their invaluable contribution to the sport, local community, and economy.”

What’s more, the Norah Head National Surfing Reserve isn’t the only group calling for more research to be done. Take, for instance, the climate collective Rising Tide. This group co-currently stans ocean-based wind farms and protecting the planet’s biodiversity.

According to Rising Tide’s Leader, Jasmine Stuart, the government needs to approach building this new wind farm carefully. 

As Stuart said, “It’s absolutely critical that we’re prioritising a transition away from fossil fuels.”

“However, we also urgently still want to see the government coordinating these ecological studies now that the industry is moving so quickly, to make sure we’re minimising the impact on the environment.”

This NSW wind farm is expected to be completed by 2030. Let’s make sure it’s good for both us, the ocean, and our fish.

Related: Climate Club — The Alliance Australia Just Joined

Related: Queensland’s $776 Million Wind Farm Is Buckwild Brilliance

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