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Newcastle Herald
Newcastle Herald
Matthew Kelly

Penny Sharpe backs Hunter Offshore Wind

NSW Environment and Energy Minister Penny Sharpe has backed the Hunter Offshore Wind Project, arguing that it represents an important part of the state's clean energy transformation.

Federal Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has called for the project's community consultation process to reopen following complaints from Port Stephens business and tourism operators.

They argue that they were not adequately consulted about the project's environmental and social impacts on the area.

Speaking in Newcastle on Wednesday, Ms Sharpe reiterated comments from federal Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese regarding future opportunities for community feedback.

She said her department was working closely with the federal government on the project.

Penny Sharpe speaking in Newcastle with Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes and Deputy Lord Mayor Declan Clausen.

"The exploration options for offshore wind are extremely exciting and important in terms of our energy transformation. But there's a lot of work that needs to be done. We're really just in the beginning stages, there's a lot of other consultation that would have to happen if things progress any further.

"My department's working closely with the federal government on what that would look like."

Mr Bowen formally declared the project in July.

Following a 65 day community consultation process, the project's area was reduced from 2810 square kilometres to 1800 square kilometre area. It initially extended from Port Stephens to Norah Head, However, the revised project extends from Port Stephens to Swansea.

The project's generation output was also reduced from eight gigawatts to five gigawatts.

More than a dozen Australian and international companies have shown interest in developing wind farms in the Hunter zone.

Ms Sharpe said she had previously met with Port Stephens residents about the project.

"I think the thing for us (the state government) is that we believe that this is an important project that needs to work and it needs to be worked through carefully," she said.

"With my environment hat on, I'm very interested in all of the issues that the community have raised with me in relation to environmental impact. We'll work through those carefully, but at this point, the Commonwealth is proceeding.

"My door's always open when it comes to consultation. I have already met with people from Port Stephens."

It is estimated the project could create about 3000 construction and 1500 ongoing Jobs.

"There are opportunities for electrical original equipment manufacturer's to innovate and supply key components of the substation modules including transformers, switchboards, control systems and circuit breakers," Hunter Jobs Alliance coordinator Justin Page said.

"Offshore wind is also vital to secure the future of our existing manufacturing Industries in the Hunter like Tomago Aluminium which injects 6000 jobs and $1.2 billion into the Hunter economy."

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