The proposed Hunter Offshore Renewable Energy Area (HOREA) which is currently on public exhibition, does not reflect the potential impacts on the Central Coast, says a council staff report.
Council staff are suggesting the Administrator asks the Commonwealth Government for:
# an extension of the consultation period and for
# information on potential impacts and opportunities of the proposal for the Central Coast.
The public consultation and exhibition period closes on April 28.
The Council report will be tabled at the April 26 council-under-administration meeting.
“The consultation (including the location of sessions) must include communities and groups that are most affected by the impacts, for example the Norah Head community and representatives from the Norah Head National Surfing Reserve,” the report to the Administrator states.
“The current consultation has not targeted those groups.”
In its proposed submission, Council staff note that in November 2022 Norah Head achieved National Surfing Reserve Status.
“The impacts on the surfing reserve including the nine beach breaks, two points breaks, three Bomboras and two Reef breaks should also be considered at the appropriate time in the development assessment process.”
The submission asks if there will be “volumetric” restrictions to prevent aircraft from flying over the infrastructure and if marine vessels, particularly those travelling between ports, will be required to travel closer to the coastline.
On 23 February 2023, the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW) wrote to Council advising that Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Chris Bowen, has proposed to declare an area off the Hunter coast for offshore renewable energy projects, such as wind power.
“Council understands that on light wind days, wind turbines would be visible for up to 40 kilometres from the coastline,” Council’s submission states.
“Accordingly, the wind turbines would be visible from a significant area of the surrounding coastline.
“Additionally, it is assumed that the turbines will be lit at night.
“The visual impacts have not been made clear in the documentation provided,” Council said.
The council report says that, with the exception of the supporting map, all the consultation material refers to the Hunter.
“Despite the proposal extending along the Central Coast, no discussion is provided on the benefits or impacts to the Central Coast,” the report states.
“Further, at this stage of the project, supporting studies have not been provided to demonstrate that the use of the area for wind turbines will not have an adverse impact upon the Central Coast.
“Detailed studies will only be prepared once the area has been declared and feasibility licences granted to proponents.
“During the feasibility period proponents are required to prepare management plans and consult with the community.
“As detailed studies are not yet available, there is insufficient information available to determine the environmental, economic and social impacts the proposed HOREA will have on the Central Coast, including on the terrestrial and marine environment, marine life and avian fauna, marine users and emergency services.”
Here’s a copy of Council’s proposed submission.
It might give you some tips if you’re thinking of submitting your own feedback.