Local offshore wind farm sessions are planned

AUSTRALIA'S first proposed offshore wind project - the Star of the South - is beginning consultations with local communities and stakeholders ahead of site investigations beginning later this year.

Input is being sought from Gippsland communities, government, peak bodies and marine users, and feedback will inform the approach to initial site investigations.

The first stage of the site investigations off the south coast of Gippsland include measuring wind and wave conditions, understanding the seabed, gathering information about water depths, and identifying features such as unmarked shipwrecks or buried cables.

Studies will also be undertaken to collect important data about movements of marine animals as well as economic studies to identify potential local job and industry opportunities.

The federal government granted the project an exploration licence in March, paving the way for technical and environmental studies to confirm the project's feasibility and inform early planning.

Public consultation sessions will be held on Thursday, September 12, in Morwell; Friday, September 13 at Lakes Entrance; Monday, September 16, at the Yarram Secondary College between 5.30pm and 7.30pm; Tuesday, September 17, at the Woodside Community Hall between 5.30pm and 7.30pm, followed by meetings at Leongatha and Port Franklin to provide an overview of the works and an opportunity for people to speak with the project team.

People can also share their feedback online, with consultation open until September 26.

Initial site investigations for the Star of the South are expected to begin late this year.

The proposed Star of the South project involves building wind turbines out at sea with cables and substations connecting power to existing infrastructure in the Latrobe Valley, providing a reliable and consistent source of energy to hundreds of thousands of Victorian homes and businesses.

The project could bring offshore wind to Australia for the first time, creating a new industry and supporting local jobs and training in Gippsland communities.

Proponents say offshore wind is a strong driver of economic development, with a proven track record of creating jobs during construction and operation.

Star of the South executive chairman Terry Kallis said this was an exciting and important step for the project.

"Community feedback and stakeholder input will help inform our approach to the site investigations.

"These detailed studies are an essential part of understanding the site conditions and the feasibility of bringing offshore wind to Australia for the first time," Mr Kallis said.

"Offshore wind is globally recognised as a largescale contributor to the energy mix in countries like the UK, Denmark, Germany and France, and is being introduced to the United States and across Asia, so we see a lot of potential for Australia to enjoy the benefits of offshore wind into the future."

For more information about Star of the South and information sessions, or to comment online, visit www.starofthesouth.com.au/getinvolved.

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