GIPPSLAND’S offshore wind industry has been given the approval to proceed with development by the federal government.

The confirmation comes after a press conference by the Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Chris Bowen on Friday August 5.

Speaking to reporters in Sydney, Mr Bowen said that he had signed a legislative instrument, beginning a 60-day consultation process to declare the coast off Gippsland as an “offshore wind zone”.

“This is an important process because I want to bring communities with us on this important journey,” Mr Bowen said.

“There will be questions, there will be valid concerns; there’ll be issues that need to be worked through with communities, whether they be recreational fishers, commercials fishers, (or) environmental issues that need to be factored in.

“This is exactly what will be happening over the next 60 days in Gippsland.”

Mr Bowen cited offshore wind as one of the key measures in getting Australia to 82 per cent renewable energy by 2030.

“We’re way behind the game, way behind the rest of the world, in producing wind off our coastline,” Mr Bowen said.

“Offshore wind is jobs-rich and energy-rich. It creates a lot of energy, and a lot of jobs.

“This (announcement) is good news for jobs, good news for the environment, good news for emissions reduction, good news for Australia.”

In a statement, Member for Gippsland Darren Chester said the government’s announcement would “allow for further detailed consideration of projects to utilise our region’s abundant wind resource.”

“Respectful community consultation and engagement is now critical to ensure the region understands the potential impacts and benefits of offshore wind projects,” Mr Chester said.

“It’s important that issues surrounding transmission lines through private property to link large-scale renewable projects to the national grid are handled sensitively and transparently.

“These projects must benefit Gippslanders by supporting local jobs and boosting the regional economy.

“These potential projects were progressing well under the previous (Coalition) government and this latest step in the process will be well-received by most Gippslanders.”

The announcement has been welcomed by Star of the South, which Mr Bowen singled-out as the “most advanced” offshore wind development in Australia.

Star of the South acting chief executive Erin Coldham said it was encouraging to see the government pushing ahead with offshore wind in Gippsland.

“We are pleased to see Bass Strait off Gippsland being formally considered as the first location for offshore electricity projects, and consultation starting with local communities, fishers and other marine users,” Ms Coldham said.

“We know the wind conditions here are ideal, with many opportunities for investment in the region.

“We are committed to continuing Gippsland’s proud history of power generation into the future and making the region the home of offshore wind in Australia.

“We encourage all community members to have their say during the required 60-day public consultation process to ensure projects are developed with local input in mind.”

Star of the South is one of five offshore wind farms being developed for Gippsland’s coast, with other projects being pursued by BlueFloat Energy, Floatation Energy and Corio Generation.

Mr Bowen has identified Gippsland as one of six regions with the potential for offshore wind generation, a list which also includes:

  • The Pacific Ocean region off the Hunter in NSW;
  • The Pacific Ocean region off the Illawarra in NSW;
  • The Southern Ocean region off Portland in Victoria;
  • The Bass Strait region off Northern Tasmania, and;
  • The Indian Ocean region off Perth/Bunbury, WA.

More information about the offshore wind consultation process can be found at https://consult.industry.gov.au/oei-gippsland