Lobby group makes waves

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Lobby group makes waves

The lobbying efforts of the Southern Coast Ocean Care Committee have been recently praised in State Parliament by Independent Mount Gambier MP Troy Bell.

The group had been formed earlier this year after news of a proposal for an offshore wind farm off the coast of Port MacDonnell and Cape Douglas began circulating.

Mr Bell said the group was concerned about the presence of 77 turbines and the potential for adverse impacts on the environment and lobster fishing industry.

His speech last week coincided with a statement from the State Government opposing South Australian waters being included in the Federal Government’s proposed offshore windfarm zone.

The MP described how the Southern Coast Ocean Care Committee set about influencing government policy.

“Rather than sitting back and accepting this development, a group of local community members took action and took it into their own hands,” Mr Bell said.

“With the strong backing of the local community they formed a group, an active social media page and began a strong campaign to voice their concerns.

“At the heart of their concerns were the potential impacts on the local fishing industry.

“Port MacDonnell is a coastal town and virtually every resident’s life or livelihood is involved or related in some way to the ocean.

“People like abalone diver Chris Carrison, the chair of Southern Coast Ocean Care; and Port MacDonnell’s Jeremy and Kai Levins, who are third and fourth generation rock lobster fishermen, are important.”

Mr Bell said the trio were part of a delegation that recently travelled to Canberra, at their own expense, to meet with the Federal Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen.

He said they voiced their concerns on how the proposed offshore wind farm would impact their town and livelihoods.

“Similar to our concerns around fracking farmland 10 years ago, there are general concerns about the effects of offshore wind farms on our valuable natural resource, which is a major economic and tourism driver for our region,” Mr Bell said.

“Proponents of major development projects in the Limestone Coast must understand the important concept of community licence, which includes considered comprehensive and transparent consultation with local residents.

“Whilst this windfarm is a Federal Government project requiring Federal approvals, I have been firm in my opinion the State Government does have a role to play in recognising our region and has a strong stance on this issue.

“The hard work of the Southern Coast Ocean Care Committee has been recognised.

“I would like to congratulate Deputy Premier, Dr Susan Close, and Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Clare Scriven, on coming out strongly on the recommendation that South Australia not be included in the Federal Government’s proposed offshore wind farm zone.”

Mr Bell also acknowledged SA-Best’s Connie Bonaros MLC who came to Port MacDonnell, met with locals and has also been a strong supporter on the issue.

“It is great to see all sides of politics working together on a united front, and that is how it should be,” he said.

“Generally, behind every political stance is a hardworking individual or group working to raise recognition of the issue.

“In particular, I would like to highlight the work of community members who have formed the Southern Coast Ocean Care Committee and all the local people who have taken the time to attend consultation sessions or put forward a submission.”

Submissions to the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water closed on August 31.

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