Public consultation: 23 February to 28 March 2023
Submissions received: 1916
Date of declaration: 12 July 2023
Declared area maximum size: 1,854km2
Potential power generation: 5.2GW
Potential jobs: 3120 jobs during construction and 1560 ongoing jobs (based on estimates in the Offshore Wind Policy Directions Paper, 2022)
Current status: Assessment of feasibility licence applications
The declared area
The Minister for Climate Change and Energy declared an area in the Pacific Ocean off the Hunter, New South Wales (NSW), as suitable for offshore renewable energy, including offshore wind on 12 July 2023.
This was given effect by the Offshore Electricity Infrastructure (Declared Area OEI-01-2023) Declaration 2023.
The declared area off the Hunter covers 1,854km2 and extends from offshore of Norah Head in the south, to Port Stephens in the north.
By declaring the area, the Minister is identifying where more environmental assessments and investigations are needed to inform future development options.
Map of declared area
This shapefile is provided for illustrative and explanatory purposes only and must be used with the GFA94 geocentric data set. The Declared Area is the area specified in Schedule 1 of the Offshore Electricity Infrastructure (Declared Area OEI-01-2023) Declaration 2023.
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Choosing the area
The offshore wind industry is well established internationally and is now an emerging industry in Australia. See building an offshore wind industry.
The Hunter area is one of 6 priority areas identified for offshore wind development in Australian Commonwealth waters. We consider several factors to identify regions that have potential to support an offshore wind industry.
The Hunter region is well suited for offshore wind due to a range of factors including:
- strong, consistent winds
- strong grid connections associated with the existing coal fired power stations
- proximity to areas of high electricity demand from population centres and heavy industry such as the Tomago smelter
- the potential to support infrastructure via the Port of Newcastle.
There is also strong industry interest in developing projects in the area offshore of the Hunter. The area is adjacent to the NSW Government’s proposed Hunter Central Coast Renewable Energy Zone.
The proposed area that went out for public consultation was determined following consultation with Australian and NSW government agencies.
Consultation on potential offshore wind developments will occur at multiple stages of the regulatory process and continues throughout the life of any project that may ultimately be approved for construction. The community’s first opportunity to share their views is when an area is proposed for declaration.
Communities were consulted during a 65-day public consultation process on the proposed Hunter area that took place from 23 February to 28 April 2023.
Information about the consultation was shared across several platforms, including on our website and social media channels. Paid promotion was undertaken in newspapers, radio and social media. A letterbox drop of 45,200 flyers to households in suburbs and towns near the proposed area has also been conducted.
Read more about the Offshore renewable energy infrastructure area proposal: Pacific Ocean off Hunter.
People from the Port Stephens, Hunter and Central Coast communities participated in 7 open house sessions during the consultation period. These sessions were held in Wamberal, Doyalson, Swansea, Newcastle City, Merewether, Hawks Nest and Nelson Bay) from 6 March to 9 March 2023.
At the sessions, attendees were briefed by government representatives on elements of the proposal, provided the opportunity for the local community to ask questions, discuss key issues and understand the importance of providing feedback via a submission.
Targeted meetings with stakeholder groups including local council representatives, First Nation groups, and port operators were also conducted in the region. Stakeholders were invited to participate in 6 online industry and community specific sessions between 20 March and 23 March 2023. These sessions were targeted to the following groups:
- commercial fishing
- recreational fishing
- community groups
- local business
- maritime industry.
The department also consulted with relevant Australian and NSW Government agencies that have policy and regulatory oversight over marine users and interests.
Minister’s response to public consultation
The declaration of the Hunter area occurred following consultation with local communities, Commonwealth, State and Local Government, First Nations people and existing industries including shipping, defence, fishing, and other marine users.
The Minister for Climate Change and Energy has listened to feedback and has decided to declare a smaller area for offshore wind than what had originally been proposed during public consultation. This takes onboard feedback obtained during the consultation process. The declared area:
- avoids significant environmental areas including marine parks, the Shelf Rocky Reef Key Ecological Feature and a biologically important area for the Gould’s Petrel around Cabbage Tree Island
- addresses concerns regarding visual impacts as the declared area is at least 20km offshore at Port Stephens, 35km from the Central Coast and 54km from Norah Head
- avoids fish aggregating devices used for recreational fishing
- allows sufficient space to ensure the safe management of shipping to and from the Port of Newcastle and around the area.
The declaration instrument for the Hunter area also includes the following conditions:
- infrastructure height is restricted to 260m
- future feasibility licence holders consult with the Department of Defence, the Bureau of Meteorology, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, as well as concession holders under the Fisheries Management Act 1991 (Commonwealth) or licence holders under the Fisheries Management Act 1994 (NSW).
During the public consultation on the proposed Hunter area, we received 1,916 submissions from the public.
- environmental impacts
- visual amenity
- shipping impacts.
Submissions also supported:
- the development of an offshore wind industry
- potential benefits to the local economy
- the transitioning to clean renewable energy.
Read the submissions summary report.
Feasibility licence applications were open from 8 August 2023 to 14 November 2023. The Offshore Infrastructure Registrar leads assessment of all applications against criteria set out in the Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Regulations 2022 and makes recommendations to the Minister. Find out more about the licence application process.
- Joint media release: unlocking new regional job opportunities with offshore wind zone declared off the Hunter coast
- Offshore wind in Australia
- Proposed offshore wind areas
- Building an offshore wind industry
- Legislation and regulations
- Energy in our department
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