Australia's premier environmental lobby group has made a submission in support of the proposed Illawarra offshore wind zone, while noting impacts on wildlife need to be avoided, minimised or mitigated.
The Australian Conservation Foundation published its submission to the Department of Climate Change, Energy the Environment and Water on the proposed offshore wind zone on its website yesterday, noting the group representing half a million Australian environmentalists supported offshore wind, due to its potential to "slash climate pollution, reduce global warming and protect people and nature".
This support hinged upon the careful siting of renewable energy projects, such as offshore wind.
"A tension exists between the need for rapid deployment of renewables and ensuring that renewable projects protect Australia's high-value ecosystems, habitats and species," the submission states.
The organisation cited four primary environmental considerations when considering offshore wind: mapping the conservation value of the region; protecting high conservation value areas from development; fully assessing threats to nature in the region; and ensuring threats can be and are avoided, minimised and mitigated.
The submission also noted the debate over the proposed offshore wind farm zone had surfaced misinformation about renewable energy, supported by "disingenuous actors".
Foundation CEO Kelly O'Shanassy said wind farm proposals had often come with dis- and mis-information about impacts on humans and animals.
"This has included debunked assertions about windfarms and infrasound and now includes unproven claims about offshore windfarms and their impact on marine species like whales," she said. "Renewable energy, if well sited and managed, is a benefit to nature because it helps combat global warming which poses a grave risk to nature, including whales."
Ms O'Shanassy said alternative solutions pushed by the federal Coalition such as nuclear power are a "disingenuous non-solution".
"Small modular nuclear reactors are not a commercial reality anywhere in the world and other forms of existing nuclear power are expensive, unsafe and too slow to make a difference to the urgent problem of climate change."
Shadow minister for climate change and energy Ted O'Brien has previously told the Mercury that the Coalition was not tied to a single renewable energy technology.
"The Coalition has adopted an 'All-of-the-Above' approach to energy which embraces a balanced mix of technologies to decarbonise the grid while keeping prices down and the lights on for households and businesses," Mr O'Brien said.
Opposition to the offshore wind farms has also drawn out other politicians, such as Pauline Hanson's One Nation NSW MLC Tania Mihailuk, who addressed attendees at an anti-wind farm rally in Wollongong on Sunday. Ms Mihailuk said opposition to the wind farms was about protecting the environment for future generations.
"This is actually about protecting the environment. How ironic is that? This is actually about preserving the environment for the next generation," she said.
On the 'Climate' section of the website of Pauline Hanson's One Nation, the party states its position that denies the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change and argues addressing climate change is "economic suicide".
Federal Illawarra MPs Alison Byrnes and Stephen Jones said neither of them were directly invited to the rally at the weekend. Both said they were responding to concerns raised by opponents of the wind farms, received in person or via correspondence, while also noting a significant portion of the community was supportive of the proposed zone.
The proposed Illawarra offshore wind farm zone covers 1461 kilometres of ocean, 10 to 30 kilometres offshore between Wombarra and Gerringong. Consultation on the zone is open until November 15.
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