The Minister for Climate Change and Energy announced this week he is seeking public feedback on a proposed new declared area for offshore wind and other renewable projects in the Pacific Ocean, off the Illawarra in New South Wales.

Snapshot

  • Public submissions are invited on the proposal. We anticipate those submissions may cover a variety of issues from workforce transition to the marine environment and other uses of the marine area, such as commercial fisheries and shipping channels around Port Kembla.
  • Submissions are to be made via DCCEEW’s Consultation Hub and must be received by 16 October 2023 to be considered.

Offshore renewable energy infrastructure area proposal: Illawarra

The Minister’s notice of proposal published on 14 August 2023 shows proposed declared area extends from off the coast of Kiama to Wombarra.

The overview of the proposed area states:

  • The Illawarra and South Coast is the Traditional Land and sea country of the Dharawal and Yuin, which is an important consideration, as projects in the declared area (if declared) will involve the installation of infrastructure across land and sea country in order to integrate with the NSW electricity grid.
  • The Southern Ocean region is well suited for offshore wind projects for similar reasons as the Hunter and Gippsland declared areas, and the Southern Ocean proposed area, because:
  • It is close to areas of high electricity demand and has a significant transmission, transport and port infrastructure already in place
  • There is significant interest from industry in development projects in the proposed area
  • As part of the Energy Transition, ageing coal-fired power stations are planning to shut down in future years throughout NSW, reducing energy production
  • It is within the New South Wales Government’s proposed Illawarra Renewable Energy Zone (REZ)
  • The area begins at least 10 kms offshore.

Existing users and interests

The DCCEEW has provided a document outlining the existing users and interests in the proposed area, identified during its initial consultation with Commonwealth and NSW Governments. These include:

  • Traditional Owners of the land and sea country`
  • Port Kembla and its users; commercial and recreational fisheries
  • Protected matters under the EPBC Act (Commonwealth environment protection legislation) are present in and near the proposed area, including sea birds, whales and turtles. We note DCCEEW has released Guidance on key factors for environment impact assessment under the EPBC Act (to read more, see our note here).

 Status of feasibility licence processes around Australia

The Illawarra is the fourth area proposed for offshore renewable energy under the Commonwealth’s Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Act 2021 regime. The current status of other areas is:

  • Gippsland (Vic) – feasibility licence applications closed in April 2023 and are being assessed;
  • Hunter (NSW) – feasibility licence applications opened on 8 August 2023 and close 14 November 2023. To read more, see our note here.
  • Southern Ocean (Vic/SA) – the Minister is seeking public feedback on the proposed declared area. Consultation closes 31 August 2023. To read more, see our note here.
  • Illawarra (NSW) – Consultation on proposed declared area closes 16 October 2023
  • Bass Strait region off Northern Tasmania and the Indian Ocean region off Perth/Bunbury, Western Australia – DCCEEW has flagged details and public consultation processes will be announced later this year.

If you would like to discuss your project, understand what the Minister’s proposal means for you or if we can assist with a submission, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

By Heidi Asten (Partner), Peter Briggs (Partner), Brigitte Rheinberger (Senior Associate) and Paige Mortimer (Solicitor)

Heidi Asten
Heidi Asten
Partner, Melbourne
“+61
Peter Briggs
Peter Briggs
Partner, Sydney
+61 2 9225 5155
Brigitte Rheinberger
Brigitte Rheinberger
Senior Associate, Sydney
+61 2 9225 5750