Wind taken out of project sails

Wind taken out of project sails

The Port MacDonnell community is celebrating following Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen’s announcement yesterday the seaside town would be spared from the declared Southern Ocean offshore wind zone.

The proposed zone was originally 5100km2 from the coast of Port MacDonnell to Warrnambool but has been downsized to 1030km2 which is at least 15 to 20km off the coast of Warrnambool and Port Fairy in Victoria.

Following the consultation period which ended on August 31 last year, Port MacDonnell residents have been waiting in anticipation for the final decision for more than six months.

The announcement has provided relief to Port MacDonnell residents including Southern Coast Ocean Care (SCOC) members, who were a group of locals that actively opposed the zone.

SCOC created an online petition protesting the proposed zone once the consultation period ended which received more than 4500 signatures when it closed last October.

The group’s campaign was bolstered in August when the State Government made a submission to the Minister, expressing concerns about the potential impact construction of an offshore wind farm in that area could have on South Australia’s southern fisheries and marine environment.

SCOC member Suzie Fulham described the announcement as “the best news ever”.

“It is absolutely surreal, I think it is going to take a few days for it to really sink in,” she said.

“We did not think this journey was ever going to end some days … it just felt like it has been hanging over our heads forever.

“Even though we are just a small little town, you just have to keep having faith and keep talking about it to people and saying no.

“One person snowballs into many, many people and it does not matter who you are, you have a voice and you must stand up.

“Everybody wants to save the ocean and it has most certainly brought the town together.”

Minister Bowen has taken onboard feedback obtained during the consultation process to ensure the declared zone avoids the Bonney Coast upwelling and includes a buffer zone to protect threatened marine life, migratory seabirds and cetaceans.

Mrs Fulham said she would like to thank everyone that advocated against the zone and helped to make this result a reality.

“I just want to thank every single person for their support,” she said.

“I would like to thank all my teammates in the Southern Coast Ocean Care, we were just a group of very passionate people that have come together and have hopefully represented our community well.

“If people had not started talking about it, people just would not know because their lives are so busy. We have had support everywhere we have turned. I think we have helped create a lot of awareness and it has had a flow on effect.

“Who knows how much effect we personally have had but I think we started something and there has been a really positive chain reaction that has happened.”

Federal Member for Barker Tony Pasin welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement and commended SCOC for their advocacy.

“I thank Minister Chris Bowen for accepting my request to meet with a delegation from the Limestone Coast in Canberra last year,” he said.

“While the department’s consultation process was fundamentally flawed, the face-to-face meeting held in Parliament House afforded the opportunity for the views of the local community to be heard and understood directly by the key decision maker.

“In addition to this meeting, the community’s powerful grassroots campaign has been integral in achieving this result and all involved should be commended for their efforts.

“It is a brilliant example of local voices making themselves heard.”

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