Illawarra locals were divided on Monday night after Wollongong City Councillors carried a motion to approve the proposed off-shore wind turbine farm area.
The motion was passed in an Ordinary Meeting of Council and would support the federal government’s move to create a wind turbine farm at least 10 kilometres away from the Illawarra coast and approximately one thousand four hundred square kilometres in area.
Community speaker at the meeting Neryl East said that the impacts of the wind turbines would be disastrous for the environment, contrary to what the government claimed.
“You’d be supporting a project that purports to address one climate disaster by creating another, the potential desecration of the Illawarra’s marine environment,” Neryl East said.
“We are being asked to put our trust in an overseas company whose sole driver here is to extract as much money as possible out of this project,
“We, in Wollongong, unfortunately, are being used as crash-test dummies so private interests can profit from this project,”
Though the motion was passed in the majority, many locals are concerned that wind farms are not the solution to the climate crisis. The lack of consultation from the community has meant that residents have not been given a fair opportunity to oppose the farms.
Councillor Mithra Cox said the future of Illawarra residents is dependent on making investments in renewable energy now.
“It is overwhelmingly in the public interest to make the transition to renewable energy.
“This is not about greedy, private interests, this is about our survival as humanity on this planet,” she said.
However, all speakers agreed that thorough research and consultation were needed before such a project could commence.
Ms Cox said if the wind turbines are safer if they come closer to the shore for whales safety then that’s what we will do.
“It could be that those studies tell us that the wind turbines need to come closer to the shore to enable the whale migration, and if people genuinely care about the whales, then that’s what we will do to minimise the impact,” Mithra said.
The motion was approved by all councillors except Councillor Elisha Aitken.
A meeting will be held at the University of Wollongong on Wednesday night for more information on the Illawarra off-shore wind turbine plans, and residents can confirm their attendance on local MP Alison Byrne’s website.