Offshore wind farms will not be constructed off the west coast of Wilsons Promontory.

Federal Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen made the announcement last week (August 31).

Speaking via video link at the Gippsland New Energy Conference, Mr Bowen said the decision had been made following consultation with various stakeholders and community groups.

The area to the west of Wilsons Promontory had previously been declared for Australia’s first offshore wind zone in December last year.

“We made the declaration after significant consultation,” Mr Bowen said.

“We considered the views expressed by your community, including business, industry and environmental groups.

“As part of the work to find a suitable area to declare, the Australian and Victorian governments considered the suitability of the coastal area west of Wilsons Promontory for offshore wind.

“We held extensive consultation with the Traditional Owners, the Gunaikurnai and Bunurong Peoples, and further considered the community’s feedback.

“Based on this work, I will not be declaring the area west of Wilsons Promontory for offshore wind development.”

At the time of the December announcement, Mr Bowen was joined by state Minister for Energy and Resources Lily D’Ambrosio.

Both ministers have agreed the Wilsons Prom area is not suitable for offshore wind development.

“The environmental risks associated with developing here are just too great,” Mr Bowen said.

“Minister D’Ambrosio and I are in agreement on this, so no further consideration will be given to this area.”

When originally announced, Mr Bowen said the area had the potential to support more than 3000 jobs over the next 15 years.

The proposed area covered about 15,000 square kilometres, running from Lakes Entrance all the way around to the Prom.

At the time, Mr Bowen reiterated the government’s commitment to making Gippsland the country’s first offshore wind zone.

“The Gippsland offshore wind zone will be the first in Australia and that’s appropriate, because in Gippsland people know how to make energy. The grid is strong, the skills are here and the opportunities are enormous,” he said.

“I look forward very much to working with Lily and the Victorian government to further consider that area west of Wilsons Promontory over the coming 12 months to see if those community concerns can be dealt with and those environmental concerns can be dealt with.

“But it’s important we get this right and it’s important that we continue to work closely with the community.”

Despite the withdrawal, Member for Gippsland South Danny O’Brien said it came as no great surprise to see Wilsons Prom was now off the table.

“This is a sensible decision that was entirely expected,” he said.

“No one in the South Gippsland community would have supported offshore wind farms to the west of the Prom and on the doorstep of Waratah Bay.

“The government now needs to ensure that it respects the views of locals to the east of the Prom and industries such as the fishing industry and ensure that impacts on them are minimal.

“We also need government policies to ensure that if this industry is to go ahead, Gippsland gets to benefit from jobs and investment, not just the negative impacts like new transmission lines.”