THE FEDERAL government has officially declared an offshore wind zone off the Hunter coast.
The declared area stretches over 1800 square kilometres of Pacific Ocean between Swansea and Port Stephens.
It is the second officially declared offshore wind zone in Australia, after an area in the Bass Strait off the Gippsland coast was announced in December 2022.
The zone has a smaller footprint than what was originally proposed, following two months of consultation with the local community and industry.
The revised area will be 20 kilometres from the coast in the north and more than 35 kilometres from the coast in the south. It is expected to generate up to 5 gigawatts of wind energy.
Federal climate change and energy minister Chris Bowen said the changes would enable safe management of shipping and other sea industries.
He said strong, consistent winds off the coast and the region’s energy and manufacturing workforce make the Hunter an ideal location for an offshore wind industry.
“The Hunter is undergoing significant economic change, and the prospect of creating new job opportunities for decades to come through a new offshore wind industry is a game changer,” Mr Bowen said.
“Today’s declaration opens the door for a new industry in the Hunter, which could create over 3000 construction jobs and another 1560 ongoing jobs.
Federal member for Newcastle Sharon Claydon said Newcastle has an opportunity to diversify its economy while becoming home to a new offshore wind industry.
“The Albanese Labor government has listened to community feedback and revised the offshore wind zone accordingly to ensure it coexists alongside whale migration, bird and sea life, and our shipping industry,” she said.
“This is an important part of a suite of measures which will position Newcastle and the Hunter as a clean energy hub, including an $100 million investment to ensure hydrogen readiness at the Port of Newcastle. Newcastle has a bright future.”
Construction can only begin after feasibility stage is completed, and environmental and management plan approvals are gained.
Feasibility licence applications for offshore wind projects in the Hunter area are due to open on 8 August (until 14 November).
During that stage, developers will be required to undertake further consultation on individual proposals, including detailed environmental assessments and impacts on other marine users.