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About us
 

We are a non-partisan group of concerned community members dedicated to protecting our community & environment.

 

We acknowledge the urgent need to reduce CO² emissions & our reliance on fossil fuels & support evidence-based measures that do so.

 

For the record, we are not affiliated with or funded by fossil fuel companies & never will be!

Illawarra Zone: Facts & Concerns

Despite the fact that 65% of the 14,211 submissions made to the DCCEEW between August - November 2023 as part of the community consultation process were 'opposed' or 'opposed with specific/other concerns' to offshore turbines (Ref. p.8 DCCEEW Submissions Summary Report - Illawarra) and 73% of these submissions were from local residents, on the 15th June 2024 Minister Bowen defied the sentiment of the local community and declared the Illawarra Renewable Energy Zone. This area of pristine ocean spans 1,022km² or ~ 252,542 acres and is now located from north of Stanwell Park, south to Kiama between 20km - 30km offshore. While the  DCCEEW's Report raises unsubstantiated concerns about the validity of the submission results (see p. 5) it is gratifying to see how well-informed our community is about the potential risks posed by offshore turbines (i.e. see pp. 16-24) as is the recent groundswell of support provided by new stakeholders across the community who are opposed to offshore turbines.

 

Important to note - We can still stop this! On the 17th June 2024, The Hon David Littleproud MP, Leader of The Nationals, Shadow Minister for Agriculture advised a public meeting that developers cannot get to the EPBC Approval stage before the next Federal election which is on, or before, the 27 September 2025 so their ability to proceed depends on who holds the balance of power in the next government. So, please use this declaration to strengthen your resolve to continue raising any questions or concerns you have with Minister Bowen and your Federal Member:- Ms Byrnes (Cunningham), Mr Jones (Whitlam) and Ms Phillips (Gilmore).

 

Remember, our community has already achieved so much! We are the only area to gain a 30-day extension to the consultation period, we broke a record for the number of submissions (i.e. 14,211) made to DCCEEW during any of their consultation periods, we had 12,079 people sign two Parliament of Australia E-petitions (EN5444 and EN5442) opposing offshore wind factories and had more than 2,000 people attend a community rally in October 2023. The more we continue to make our opposition known, the more uncertainty we create for potential investors about the viability of developing offshore turbines in the Illawarra. 

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Image courtesy Region Illawarra

What's Next?

During Minister Bowen's 15th June announcement, he stated that applications for feasibility licenses will be open from 17 June - 15 August 2024 and that each license application will need to involve:-

  • community consultation,

  • engagement with First Nation peoples and

  • environmental plans

 

Concerns

1. Opportunity & support for meaningful community consultation:  Now that the zone has been stretched further north, the turbines and sub-stations will be directly offshore and visible not only from Australia's oldest National Park and it's uniquely special natural attractions, but also from Otford North through to Cronulla, so when does DCCEEW plan to consult with the residents in these communities? According to the DCCEEW's own interactive map, the turbines will be positioned as close as 25.87 km off Cronulla Beach but there have been no community information sessions or DCCEEW flyers distributed to these residents!

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Image courtesy of Blake Douglas 

Surely if Kiama residents were afforded this consultation with turbines proposed for 30km off their coast, residents from Otford and North through to Cronulla with turbines closer than 30km offshore require the same level of consultation? Furthermore, how will the residents between Wombarra - Kiama who have already been 'consulted', be meaningfully consulted with by the developers behind each application for a feasibility license given that there may be up to 30 different developers making applications during the 8-week period when applications can be made? Do residents need to attend multiple presentations by different developers? And how will we hear about them? Will they be run in the middle of the day on a week-day as BlueFloat's sessions in Thirroul and Shellharbour were in June 2023? And who will be responsible for providing the community's feedback to the government? The developers? And what will the Government do with feedback that expresses concerns regarding the turbines given their track record of raising doubts about the validity of results from two E-petitions and the DCCEEW submissions that together gathered 21,316 objections to offshore turbines

 

2. Lack of genuine engagement with First Nation peoples. When Minister Bowen first announced the proposed Illawarra Offshore wind area on the 14th of August 2023 he stated that "a comprehensive program of community information sessions, targeted meetings with existing sectors such as fisheries and the tourism industry, and meetings with ... First Nations representatives" was undertaken. This was not the experience of many of us here in the Illawarra as evidenced by the fact that so many in the community hadn't even heard about the proposal at that time and still haven't! And if our First Nations peoples were consulted as claimed, where is the First Nations Impact Statement? Will they be 'consulted' in the same way they reportedly were before? How will First Nations Underwater Cultural Heritage such as the 'crop circles' discovered in the sea floor off the Illawarra coast be protected?

 

3. Environmental plans will be prepared by the developers and, according to Minister Bowen on 13/11/23 "Experts with the Nature Positive Regulation Division of the department (i.e. DCCEEW) will review the developer's assessments of any impacts on birds, whales and other marine life" but how will they know if what the developer is reporting is relevant and factual? e.g. When developer BlueFloat made its EPBC referral in November 2023, which was subsequently withdrawn after 4 days to due community backlash, they identified the 'Orange-bellied parrot' species as at risk due to habitat removal, however these parrots are not found in the Illawarra! i.e. their habitats are in Tasmania, Victoria and South Australia. What checks and balances will the DCCEEW be putting in place to ensure developers accurately identify all local species that will be at risk? And how will they monitor their efforts to mitigate risks? Will they just rely on the developer's word and images? We've all seen how images can be distorted!

 

Additional claims & concerns

4. Jobs: On the 15th June 2023 Minister Bowen also claimed "1700 jobs in construction" and "800 ongoing jobs" will be created by offshore turbines but:-

a. what about the 14,000+ local jobs currently provided directly and indirectly by tourism, accommodation and hospitality across the Illawarra that could be threatened, given the negative impact turbines are known to have on tourism? Plus the 70 jobs from just one of our local commercial fishers that are at risk because they will be no longer able to trawl in the declared zone due to safety risks (e.g. collision, cable damage/entanglement)? The Offshore Electricity Infrastructure (OEI) Regulator has stated that the OEI Act framework "operates under the principle of shared use of the offshore marine environment recognising all users" but in the same document it states that "project developers should not be undertaking project-specific consultation with stakeholders." So, how will these legitimate users of the ocean and employers of local people have their needs for shared use be heard?

b. how were these 'potential job' figures arrived at? When asked, the DCCEEW referred to the Victorian Government's Offshore Wind Policy Directions Paper which estimates that 600 construction jobs and 300 ongoing jobs could be potentially generated for every 1GW of power generated (ref. p.27). So, for the newly declared zone which is estimated to generate 2.9GW power, the DCCEEW simply multiplied the 600 and 300 by 2.9 to arrive at the "1,740 jobs during construction and 870 ongoing jobs" quoted on its website! They used this same method to come up with the original "potential" job figures of 2,500 jobs during construction and 1,250 ongoing jobs associated with the proposed zone which could purportedly generate 4.2GW power. i.e. they multiplied 600 and 300 each by ~ 4.2! So, does the fact that there seems to be a fixed ratio of labour costs per GW generated mean that this form of infrastructure does not benefit from  economies of scale by reducing costs of production as output increases? If so, how is this infrastructure financially viable? Evidence shows that offshore wind is the most expensive form of power generation and there are ongoing and significant concerns about its economic viability. See Responsible Future Illawarra Chapter 'High Power Prices with Offshore Wind' link.

5. "Offshore archeology and sacred sites would be protected". How will the shipwreck SS Nemesis, the site where 32 crew lost their lives in 1904, and considered the "holy grail" by shipwreck researchers which sits within the declared zone, along with an estimated 14 other shipwrecks, be protected and not desecrated by gigantic steel monoliths serving the industrialisation of our ocean? And how will the submerged Indigenous Heritage be protected? Offshore turbines, specifically their disturbance of the sea-bed and the changes in hydrodynamic conditions created by the turbines, has the potential to irrevocably destroy these ancient relics and sacred sites. 

Call to Action

Minister Bowen thinks that the community's concerns have been addressed and that his MP colleagues no longer need to contact him with these! In his press conference at Bluescope on 15/6/24, Minister Bowen advised the Members for Cunningham Alison Byrnes and for Whitlam, Stephen Jones that they could now "stop texting, signaling, WhatsApping, emailing me and calling me everyday about their concerns." We say a smaller area of something irresponsible is not good enough so use this defiance of the community's opposition to offshore turbines to strengthen your resolve to make your opposition to offshore turbines heard! Keep calling, emailing and messaging your questions and concerns to Minister Bowen and your Federal Member.

minister.bowen@dcceew.gov.au

ted.obrien.mp@aph.gov.au (Shadow Minister for Climate Change & Energy)

alison.byrnes.mp@aph.gov.au (Member for Cunningham)

Stephen.Jones.MP@aph.gov.au (Member for Whitlam)

Fiona.phillips.mp@aph.gov.au (Member for Gilmore)

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Ocean

If you have any concerns,

please write directly to Chris Bowen & Ted O'Brien

Chris Bowen, Federal Minister for Climate Change and Energy

minister.bowen@dcceew.gov.au

https://www.chrisbowen.net

Ted O'Brien, Shadow Federal Minister for Climate Change and Energy

ted.obrien.mp@aph.gov.au

https://tedobrien.com.au

Say NO to the wind turbine power plant 20km off our coast 

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What is happening?

Support for renewable energy is critical for our future! It is important that we rely on facts and evidence from scientific research when making decisions about which form of renewable energy to pursue and that we learn from the mistakes made by others around the world. The purpose of this website is to provide you with facts about offshore wind turbine power plants. 

 

On the 15th June 2024, Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Chris Bowen declared a Renewable Energy Zone to be located off the Illawarra coastline between Kiama to Wombarra; starting at 30km offshore from Kiama and reducing to approximately 20km offshore from Wollongong to Wombarra.  

 

According to the DCCEEW in August 2023, we can expect "multiple large scale developments" including the construction of approximately 300 turbines each 280m+ high, several floating substations, and an onshore grid connection.

For 105 turbines, BlueFloat Energy have said they will include 3 substations (BlueFloat Energy Newsletter). So if, as Minister Bowen stated on 15/6/24, "each turbine is usually 2km apart", this would allow for ~222 turbines within the 1,022km² zone so we can also expect 4-5 floating substations. 

⚠️ The Turbine Zone is 1,022km² or ~ 252,542 acres

That is an area equivalent to 1 x Wollongong LGA

+ 1 x Shellharbour LGA + 1 x Kiama LGA!

How the height compares

“The turbines expected to be installed off Gippsland, Wollongong and Newcastle will have blades longer than 100 metres long, scraping the sky 260 metres above the waves. The top of Sydney’s Harbour Bridge is 135 metres above sea level.” SMH 11/8/22

Each blade is the length of a soccer field: 107m!

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Aus Government DCCEEW report identifies 13 key impacts:

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Visual Impact

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Government visual simulations demonstrate that at 20KM offshore they will dominate the view

The government has released some visualisations of how the turbines may look 10 & 20km offshore - both at Bulli Beach and from Bulli lookout.

You can view all the images here. These images are best viewed on a large screen.

Thank you to the gov for providing some visuals. It proves that at 20KM out these huge turbines will dominate the vista. Please note - the images released are only shown against a motely sky, the focal point is close to shore, they don't show any floating substations (see image), don't visualise the silhouettes at sunrise, and don't show the night time view of white and red navigation lights with the red appearing to flash as the blades spin in front of them.

If you don't want to see this view every time you look at the ocean for the next 40 years, email Chris Bowen and your Federal Member  of Parliament.

On ABC Illawarra radio (Oct 2023) Dr. Karl estimated that 280m high turbines would be seen up to 45km out to sea when sitting on the beach and from the top of the escarpment, that number is closer to 100km on a clear day.

Make sure you specifically mention in your survey that 20KM, proven by these government visuals, does not satisfy the community concerns and the Council request to minimise the visual impact on our coast. 

A review of the daytime and nighttime views found that:

  1. Facilities of 100 turbines can be easily seen at distances exceeding 35km or even farther. Ours will be 20km offshore!

  2. At night, aerial hazard navigation lighting was visible at distances greater than 39km. Ours will be 20km!

  3. At distances of 14km or less, even isolated small facilities will likely be a major focus of visual attention in seaward views Journal of Environmental Practice 

“It’s like living on a runaway”

Kansas Resident, Wall Street Journal, 30/4/2023

Environmental Impact

Sea Shepherd calls for extreme caution and more research

Sea Shepherd’s DCCEEW submission dated 13 Nov 2023, highlights the need for more research about the risks associated with turbines on marine life and better regulation of developers before approving any turbine installations. It does not in any way dismiss the legitimate risks of OSW on marine life, birds & bats; quite the opposite in fact!

It reiterates the potential significant risks to critically endangered, endangered and other species as listed on an applicant's EPBC referral (e.g. from unplanned spills/pollution events, pile driving, cable laying, artificial lighting, underwater noise & vibration, vessel strike, blade strike, EMF) and devotes approx 2.5 of its 9-page submission to the risk of entanglement to the approx. 40,000 whales and their calves who use the migration pathway every year, stating “we don’t know how a whale population of this size is likely to fare when passing through or around this cluster of mooring lines together with cables to floating sub-stations, and to shore…” and “It has been suggested by some academics that whales will be able to navigate successfully through or around these cables and lines but there is no precedent elsewhere in the world for this number of whales passing this number of lines at these depths.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It warns that knowing these risks, applicants are "proceeding on the basis that impacts to Commonwealth Marine Areas have the potential to be significant (i.e. "important, notable or of consequence") and as such "The Minister needs to do ... whatever is possible to minimise or avoid these impacts."

 

"A priority would be to undertake research to establish the patterns of whale migration and their distance from shore in the Illawarra before approving any turbine installations”. In regards regulation, it states that "based on the early behaviour of some potential applicants ... the Government may have to use more direct regulatory approaches than guidelines to achieve environmentally sound processes …” providing an example where a recent applicant intends to use the noisiest installation method that also generates far fewer local jobs, than a quieter alternative.

 

It concludes with the warning that "If there is scientific uncertainty about the impacts of an action, and potential impacts are serious or irreversible, the precautionary principle is applicable. ... Environmentally, the Illawarra region is a highly sensitive area and one that should be approached with extreme caution if OSW development is allowed to proceed.”

You can read more from Sea Shepherd Australia here

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Noise

The noise present during construction, primarily due to pile driving is very loud and can be detectable from 100km away from the initial site” Dr James Miller, Department Chair of Ocean Engineering, University of Rhode Island, 29/7/2020. (Watch a short interview here). It has been noted that all forms of underwater noise from offshore developments can reduce the survival rate of marine animals due to their impact on navigation, mating and migration pathways (University of Maryland, 2014).

See what BlueFloat proposed for the Illawarra as part of their EPBC Referral on 3/11/23. While they withdrew this on 7/11/23, it is highly likely they will resubmit this to DCCEEW as soon as the REZ is declared.

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Whales & Crustaceans

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  • The proposed REZ intrudes on the whale migration* pathway protected zone which is <15km offshore.  Note*: Once the Map of Australia loads, you may need to double click onto the map for the legend to appear on Left. Tick 'Proposed Illawarra zone', 'Whales' & 'CAPAD' , then 3 dots to left of 'CAPAD' for the Marine Protected Areas to reveal themselves.

Targeted seismic testing of more than 300 locations will involve blasting the seafloor with high-powered airguns (a kind of powerful horn) every 10 seconds. These blasts, which reach more than 250 decibels, disturb essential feeding and breeding behaviours, mask communications between whales and dolphins, injure and kill marine life for years (Centre for Biological Diversity). The cables anchoring each turbine to the seabed, connecting each turbine to the other, and then connecting each circle of turbines into the offshore sub-stations not only creates a labyrinth that could entangle marine life but these cables also emit an electromagnetic field which studies have shown stun crustaceans and cause deformities in their offspring. (See 'Impacts in Detail' page under 'Marine')

Birdlife

The welfare of seabirds is at risk due to the potential for collisions with the turbines, as well as causing the birds to adjust their travel routes which can significantly impact their endurance as a migratory species. (Birdlife International, 2023). 

 

Please see the long list of threatened species that will be "potentially significantly impacted" by offshore power plants according to a report submitted by BlueFloat.

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Marine ecosystems

The wind wake effect of offshore wind turbines affects the hydrodynamical conditions in the ocean, reducing current velocities which leads to an increase in the sediment carbon and decreased dissolved oxygen inside the area which impacts primary production and bottom water deoxygenation. (Journal of Communications Earth & Environment, 2022). “Offshore wind farms are projected to impact primary production and bottom water deoxygenation.

Wind turbines have life span of 10 to 20 years and are expensive to break down due to their size and the fact they are made from a mixture of composite materials including glass fibre, carbon fibre, polyester and epoxy resins.

 

While improvements in turbines means many components can technically now be recycled, they are not because "the key problem is there is not a lot of money in it, so recyclers don't have a huge income stream," (Source: abc.net.au)

Big wind’s dependence on toxic lakes

Wind energy is not nearly as “clean” and “green” as the wind lobbyists want you to believe. 

 

“All forms of energy production have some environmental impact. However, it is disingenuous for wind lobbyists to hide the impacts of their industry while highlighting the impacts of others.”

IER Policy Associates Travis Fisher and Alex Fitzsimmons

A typical wind turbine contains more than 8000 different components, many of which are made from steel, cast iron and concrete. One such component are powerful magnets made from rare earth materials such as neodymium iron boron (NdFeB) and samarium cobalt (SmCo)Neodymium magnets are the most commonly used magnets in wind turbines because they are the strongest available.

 

The demand of neodymium (Nd) for 1 MW capacity of the wind turbine is 216 kg so for a turbine plant with a proposed 2000MW capacity grid as is proposed by Illawarra Offshore Wind, this would require the mining of 432,000kg or 432 tonnes of neodymium alone. China, controls 95% of the world’s supply of rare earth minerals.

Read more here: Wind Power, Politics and Magnets (Harvard)

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A mine containing rare earth minerals in Inner Mongolia, China

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The lake of radioactive waste at Baotou, China, with the rare earth processing plants that produce this waste in the background. Seven million tonnes/year of mined rare earth materials are doused in acid and chemicals, processed through furnaces before being dumped in this ‘tailing lake’. It has killed farmland for miles around, made thousands of people ill and put one of China’s key waterways in jeopardy. Arial view

Economic Impact

Property Values

“Wind farm visibility reduces local house prices, and the implied visual environmental costs are substantial”

Journal of Environmental Economics and Management 

"The estimated loss in property value is most likely to be in the range of 10% - 22%, similar to the losses one would expect when other industrial infrastructure, such as high voltage power lines, are built within view" 

Investment Analyst in property, logistics and energy investments & an Associate of the Australian Property Institute who conducted a preliminary assessment of the impact of offshore turbines on Illawarra property prices, September 2023

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“They ask about the noise, they ask about the flicker, and then they don’t put in an offer.”  

Owner of a property located within view of wind turbines who has been trying to sell her property for 2 years. 

The developers will refute property prices fall by pointing to ‘research’ funded or conducted by those with vested interests so verify the integrity of these reports and ask the developers: Where do your families live? Are you prepared to guarantee the price of my property and pay financial compensation if it reduces after the turbines are installed like developers are required to do in some US counties? 

Also verify the relevance of the research and the number of properties included in the study. Most, if not all of the small amount of research completed in Australia has been on rural properties versus coastal. Where rural properties were also lifestyle properties, as many are on the Illawarra coast, there was a decline in property value.

Tourism

BlueFloat’s own website states one advantage of its floating offshore wind technology is “reduced visual impacts, which are particularly important for tourist destinations.”

 

The entire Illawarra coastline IS an important tourist destination but this proposal turns 1,461km2 of pristine ocean into an industrial zone.

A study by economists at North Carolina State University found that most people do not want to holiday at beaches that have a view of offshore wind turbines – and that those who will, expect steep rental discounts. 54% said they would not rent a vacation home if turbines were in view at all, no matter how large a discount was offered on the rental price. The remainder would only be willing to choose beach holiday homes with turbines at 12.9km if there was a significant discount. source

Fishing & Diving

Exclusion zones of between 400m² - 500m² around each wind turbine will significantly restrict recreational fishers and divers from accessing this vast area of pristine ocean. This means that locals and tourists will be forced further out to sea placing them at greater risk or to different locations reducing tourism along the REZ coastline. 

 

These resources may help you with your DCCEEW survey submission.

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Our beautiful coast. Image Credit: Steen Barnes 16Images 

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"To date, the industry has underestimated the risk and cost of wind turbine fires." A. Krcmar, Member American Wind Energy Association's Wind Environmental, Health, and Safety Standards Committee - 8 Sept 2020

Take Action!

Beach Fench

Contact Chris Bowen, Federal Minister for Climate Change and Energy

Contact Tanya Plibersek, Federal Minister for Environment and Water

Contact Ted O'Brien, Shadow Federal Minister for Climate Change and Energy

Contact your
Federal Member of Parliament

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Member for Cunningham

Member for
Whitlam

Contact your State Member of Parliament & Local Councillors

​State Members:

Local Councillors

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