Residents and experts are divided over whether the proposed Illawarra offshore wind zone will affect property prices, as the issue heats up.
Attendees at recent community events have raised the question of whether the project, if approved, would have a negative effect on Illawarra property values.
And now residents in Wollongong's coastal suburbs, community groups on either side of the debate and property experts have had their say.
The proposed Illawarra offshore wind farm zone covers 1461 kilometres of ocean, 10 to 30 kilometres offshore between Wombarra and Gerringong.
Stephen Young, a Thirroul home owner who is in favour of the wind farm proposal, bought in the suburb in 2015, having relocated from the ACT.
"We didn't buy because of the view, but we do have a view out to the ocean from our deck," he said.
"We live in a street which is just above the beach, and having views of the ocean and the escarpment was definitely an appeal to us in buying where we did.
"But at the time, I was more concerned about the possibility of houses going up around us that would block the view, which has happened to some extent.
"I think the ocean is already industrialised to a large extent. We've got coal ships out there, big ships anchoring, we're fishing the oceans.
"It's not a concern at all to me about our property values... I've looked at some of the research in other countries, but the research I've seen shows there's no impact on property values."
Conversely, Fairy Meadow home owner Alex O'Brien told the Mercury the approval of the wind farm proposal would discourage out-of-area home buyers and large property developers from investing in the Illawarra.
When asked whether he believed the proposed wind farm would have a negative impact on Illawarra house prices if approved, Mr O'Brien said he would "bet my house on it".
He said the presence of wind turbines would reduce the appeal of the region, especially for those seeking unobstructed views and a pristine coastal environment.
"For instance, if given the choice between an unobstructed view of the ocean and a landscape dotted with 300 large turbines, the majority of people would opt for the former due to its natural beauty," he said. "It's simple buyer preference."
Mr O'Brien said although he currently doesn't have a scenic view, he intents to build upwards within the next five to 10 years, and the view would then be impacted by an offshore wind farm.
He said the concerns surrounding the proposed wind farm in the Illawarra go beyond just the impact on owners' views.
"There are other factors to consider, such as the potential loss of scenic beauty, the impact on the local economy such as jobs and tourism, the impact on marine life, the potential for noise pollution, and even potential health concerns.
"Additionally, there's uncertainty about how the development will unfold and what the turbines will actually look like and where they will go. All of these factors contribute to the overall concern among residents and potential buyers in the area."
The federal government wants to establish the zone to provide renewable energy and contribute to Australia's target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
The Illawarra Coalition Against Offshore Wind (CAOW) said evidence from other wind turbine projects indicates the proposed Illawarra plant will impact property prices and the drop in value could be significant.
"Because the size and scale of this proposal would make it the biggest offshore wind plant so close to a major residential area in the world, it's not possible to predict the exact impact," a spokesperson said.
"Many of the available reports and studies are based on onshore turbines or projects where the turbines are smaller and fewer in number.
"An Associate of the Australian Property Institute has reviewed the international research and estimates the loss in property value is most likely to be 10 per cent to 22 per cent, similar to the losses expected when other industrial infrastructure like high voltage power lines is built within view of properties."
Meanwhile, a representative of the Wollongong arm of a national youth climate movement Tomorrow Movement said research indicated there would be minimal, if any impact on property prices.
"Given that the purpose of this development is renewable energy, and a need to transition away from fossil fuels, the greater danger to property is climate change, in terms of the impact," he said.
According to a FAQ document compiled by the Blue Energy Futures Lab, a University of Wollongong collection of academics, existing examples from overseas have shown that communities adjacent to offshore wind development proposals have been concerned about a loss of property value as a result of a loss of pristine ocean views.
"Recent research from the USA concluded 'we find no evidence of negative impacts to property values' from offshore wind development," the document said.
"A similar study in Denmark found that there was no significant effect of having an off-shore wind farm in view from a property itself or from the nearest beach."
Speaking at an event earlier this week, Michelle Voyer, Associate Professor at the University of Wollongong said in relation to property prices, "the literature that we looked at said that there was no evidence of any negative impacts in relation to house prices near offshore wind farms".
"That was in relation to houses that could see the wind farms," she said.
Vanessa Denison-Pender from McGrath Thirroul, who regularly sells properties in Wollongong's northern suburbs said she didn't believe the proposal would have an adverse impact on home prices in the Illawarra.
She said the region's lifestyle appeal and proximity to Sydney meant it would always be in demand among home buyers.
Cristian Carvana from The Agency said he believed the wind farms wouldn't drastically affect the market.
"The comments that I've heard about it making the market plummet and destroying the Illawarra market... I don't think that's anywhere near what the truth will be, if it was to happen," he said.
"It might for a brief period of time cause a little concern and caution out there, but I think after a few months it will be old news and completely fine moving forward.
"The reality is, long-term, property appreciates in value, and no matter what variables and factors are thrown whichever way, long-term the property market always appreciates in value."
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