When energy minister Chris Bowen announced the shape of the proposed Illawarra offshore wind zone, he promised "genuine consultation" with the Illawarra community, and this week locals will get their chance.
Across six consultation sessions from Bulli to Gerringong, community members can have their questions on offshore wind answered by government staff.
Ahead of the first session at the Bulli Senior Citizens Centre, the Mercury asked those engaged with the proposal about what questions they wanted answers to.
A surfer and self-described "person of the coastline", Michael Green said spiritual peace and tranquillity he derived from the horizon led him to start to find out more about what was proposed for the Illawarra's coastline.
"Can you guarantee that these will not be visible from the coastline?"
For Sharon Bent, having the facts available is key to making the right decision on offshore wind. Ms Bent, along with a group of other concerned residents, set up the No Offshore Turbines webpage and have been collecting documents on the proposal for offshore wind in Australia and other examples around the world.
The website has been collecting names for a petition, which Ms Bent said had reached 250 signatures.
With the consultations occurring in her suburb, Ms Bent said she was asking for visualisations to be released for residents to see what the turbines would look like.
"I want to know why the government didn't insist on accurate visual simulations, both day and night time, being provided to residents so that they could make an informed decision?"
Ms Bent, who affirmed she was supportive of renewable energy, asked if the turbines could be moved further offshore and what impact the structures would have on migrating whales.
Chiara Nakashain said her starting point was an awareness that Australia needed to have more renewable energy and that climate change was a direct threat. Ms Nakashain said she did not want the solution to create more damage to the environment.
For this reason, Ms Nakashian said identifying the impacts on the offshore ecosystem was her primary concern.
"Anytime you disrupt an ecosystem in any way, there are going to be effects, and I just want to know what the effects are?"
Ms Nakashian also said she would like to know who was going to benefit from the wind farms once they were up and running and if the community's views were going to be truly incorporated into the progress of the project.
"If this is really going to be about going away from coal, how are we supporting those people who work in the coal industry?"
For Austinmer resident Damien Toogood, the impact of climate change on the region was also a driving concern, however he asked whether the consultations so far were being given the information they needed.
"The northern Illawarra is stunning, it borders our first National Park. Let's get it right, by taking the time to discuss it as a community with industry."
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