Commonwealth backs windfarms in Vic’s east

The federal government has announced it will assess the Bass Strait in Victoria’s east for offshore wind developments, months after the state began its own investigations.

The Commonwealth said the area near Gippsland was chosen due to its favourable wind conditions, investor interest, grid connection plans and Victorian government backing.

Assessments will examine the impact of offshore renewable energy infrastructure, including on marine life and birds, fishing, shipping and local communities.

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“Our government understands that a strong offshore energy sector can help provide clean and affordable power to households, businesses, and industrial consumers,” Assistant Minister to the Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Tim Wilson said on Tuesday.

“An offshore electricity industry could create thousands of new jobs and drive the economic growth of our regional and coastal economies.”

It comes after the Victoria government announced in November it was putting $40 million towards kickstarting three offshore wind farms in the area.

The state government said funding would be used to conduct feasibility studies for offshore wind farm developments near Gippsland and the Bass Coast.

These studies will determine the exact location for each wind farm, including community consultation.

A proposed 2.2GW offshore wind farm off the coast of Gippsland, Star of the South, received $19.5 million for pre-construction development.

Asked on ABC Radio National why wind farms had not been built in Australia years ago, Mr Wilson said: “I can’t answer to why it wasn’t done in the past.”

“But what I can say is within three weeks of being the minister responsible for this area, we passed laws to enable it to happen and now we’re getting on with the job,” he said.

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