Member for Kiama Gareth Ward has delivered a Private Members Statement putting on record local community and scientific concerns in relation to the proposed wind farm off the coast of the Illawarra.

Watch my speech here

“In my inaugural speech in this place, I talked about my passion for the environment.  In that speech, I said I was a conservationist, not a protectionist. We didn’t inherit this planet from our parents, we borrow it from our children,” Mr Ward told the house.   

“I believe in the precautionary principle. I support initiatives that deliver cleaner air and cleaner water. Our State has an ambitious plan for clean energy targets and strongly support sensible plans for reliable, affordable cleaner energy. But I am also a rationalist  

Mr Ward acknowledged concerns raised by former Greens leader Dr Bob Brown, who recently told ABC 730, “"we have alternatives for renewable energy. We don't have alternatives for extinct species of birds.  We're in an age where it's predicted 30 per cent of Australia's birds will go to extinction this century because of human pressures. And we have to think about biodiversity.", Dr Brown said. 

“I agree with Dr Brown and given that the Illawarra and South Coast is a migratory species highway, the question of environment impact versus environmental benefit must be answered in full.   

Mr Ward referred to increasing operations costs, a lack of evidence on the assessment of ecological risks, and strict requirements for assessment under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.  

“A CSIRO report last year put the likely capital costs of offshore wind in 2028 at $5356 per kilowatt of capacity installed, almost three times higher than onshore wind at $1915/kW,” he observed. 

Mr Ward also acknowledged local concerns who feel the region is being “treated like crash test dummies.”  

“I met with BlueFloat and provided them with feedback I had received about the proposal. Whilst I acknowledged that I had received supportive comments, the vast majority were opposed raising everything from visual concerns, environmental impacts, shipping line impacts and even impacts on tourism,” Mr Ward confirmed.  

Mr Ward also questioned other viable options and whether they were being considered, such as the ability to make Blue Hydrogen from natural gas (and capturing the CO2) and transitioning to solar as it becomes cheaper.  

“Is there a viable option and a better pathway other than the privatisation of our oceans?  

“I call on local Labor Members across the Illawarra and South Coast to state their position," Mr Ward concluded.