More than 400 residents and surfers attended a paddle-out on Sunday, June 25, to protest the wind farm planned for an area 10km off the coast from Port Stephens to Norah Head.
Community groups Love Norah Head and Love the Coast organised the protest, which saw beach lovers line the Norah Head shoreline.
The Hunter Offshore Renewable Energy Area (HOREA) is proposed to be only 10km off Norah Head, Noraville and Budgewoi shores and around 17km from Bateau Bay, Shelly Beach, Wamberal and Terrigal.
“It was extremely encouraging to see the incredible turn out we had to support protecting our coastline and our way of life,” group spokesperson Nick Anderson said.
“Many of the locals who attended had no idea about this proposal until they heard about our event.
“On hearing some of the facts surrounding the giant turbines, they were completely horrified.
“To get an idea of the scale of this, the HOREA will house hundreds of 350M high floating turbines, each taller than the Centre Point Tower.”
Anderson said many residents found the proposal very upsetting.
“While we fully appreciate the need to explore renewable energy options, our community has strong concerns regarding the sustainability and suitability of this massive project,” he said.
“It seems that Central Coast residents are being asked to give up their coastline to allow the industrialisation of the ocean for the promise of a few jobs for the Hunter Region.”
He said lack of notification and appropriate and meaningful community consultation were of large concern.
“There’s evidence suggesting that these monstrous turbines can directly impact the migration pathway of the humpback, southern right, minke and pygmy blue whales.
“Construction of turbines will require sonar floor mapping which is known to temporarily, and in some cases permanently, impair the hearing of mammals using echo location.”
Anderson said strikes by vessels associated with the construction and maintenance of the turbines posed a great risk to wildlife, especially large and slow-moving fauna near the surface and other marine life including dolphins, turtles, seals and sharks.
“This, coupled with the impact on the migratory paths of critically endangered birds when over 700 giant turbines are installed, makes this an environmental disaster waiting to happen,” he said.
“There are also known impacts of electromagnetic frequency (EMF) on critically endangered species including rays, white sharks and grey nurse sharks and other species that are important to our economy, such as lobsters and crabs.
“The northern end of the Central Coast is renowned for its undeveloped visual beauty and pristine coastline.
“A major eyesore such as this will certainly reduce property value and severely affect commercial fishing due to loss of fishing grounds.
“Residents and tourists enjoy whale watching, swimming, surfing, boating and other recreational activities which are directly tied to the coastline.
“The installation of towering turbines will dominate the landscape and ruin our way of life forever.”
Anderson said many were concerned about how the proposal would affect the area’s “amazing surf breaks”.
“Floating wind turbines have been identified to greatly reduce overall swell, causing surface water disturbance which will decrease wave speed and power,” he said.
“We are urging the community to write to their local political representatives and politely but firmly demand that this is taken off the table.
“If we are going to protect our home from these kinds of threats to our environment, lifestyle, primary industries and local economy, this must be where we stand firmly together and draw a line in the sand.”
Love Norah Head, Photos: Glenn ‘Mac.Snaps’ McMillan