The Illawarra's peak business lobby group has thrown its full support behind a proposed offshore wind zone located 10 kilometres off the Illawarra's coastline.
Business Illawarra executive director Adam Zarth said concerns regarding the environmental and visual impact could be dealt with during the approvals process and suggestions that tourists would shun the Illawarra was just speculation.
"There's nothing that I know of to indicate that there's a direct tourism impact just by the fact that a region has an offshore wind zone within it," he said.
Instead, Mr Zarth said, the proposal represented a great development for the region and a "big win" for the local economy.
"Ultimately will see a lot of people moving out of legacy industries into high-value, high-paying jobs, working in renewables."
In its submission to the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water on the proposal, Business Illawarra outlined its support for the proposal rested upon the opportunities for Illawarra businesses to be involved in the project and the provision of cheaper, sustainable energy.
While not nominating a set figure for local content in wind farms and associated infrastructure, Mr Zarth said governments needed to be "pragmatic" in determining local content requirements.
"That will entail the growth of all those companies here in the Illawarra and they will start employing more people," he said.
With Illawarra businesses hit hard by rising energy prices, Mr Zarth highlighted the potential of an offshore wind farm to provide reliable, affordable electricity.
"There's an agreement that we need to move away from burning thermal coal in inefficient power stations to keep the lights on. But what do we move to?
"The answer is now starting to solidify; it will be a combination of rooftop solar, offshore wind, and a small array of other sources, with peaking power supplied by gas-fired power stations like Tallawarra B."
Further inaction would lead to more businesses - large and small - unable to pay their power bills and the Illawarra's energy intensive industries driven out.
"We need to put downward pressure on [prices] by quickly standing up new sources of generation. Because otherwise, we're going to start seeing people going out of business."
The proposed offshore wind zone covers 1461 square kilometres between 10 and 30 kilometres offshore between Gerringong and Wombarra.
The Illawarra is not the only region where large renewable energy projects have divides in the community, with transmission lines in Victoria and regional NSW and offshore wind zones in the Hunter provoking similar responses
While Mr Zarth said he was "confident" environmental impacts could be mitigated through the approvals process, the consultation process for any large, nation-building infrastructure would by its nature provoke a range of views.
"In many respects, more opposition to major projects like this is a simple function of the fact that governments are listening and consulting more than ever, which is a good thing," he said.
"I think that it's been good to have a debate in the community about what this is, because if the government just ploughed ahead and did it, that would be a far lesser outcome."
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