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'Ideological hatred' stalling first Australian offshore wind farm

Union says exploration licence for 2GW Star of the South 'gathering dust' on desk of energy minister

Plans for Australia’s first offshore wind farm are being stalled by its government’s “ideological hatred” of renewable energy, claimed the country’s maritime union.

The Star of the South project aims to deploy 2GW off the state of Victoria, and has secured backing from global offshore wind investor Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners.

But the project is stuck without an exploration licence allowing it to carry out site investigations in Commonwealth waters, under the jurisdiction of Australia’s federal authorities rather than the renewables-friendly state government of Victoria.

The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) claims the project’s application for a licence has been “gathering dust” on the desk of energy minister Angus Taylor since last year, meaning the developer’s ambitions to create up to 12,000 jobs are on hold.

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MUA deputy national secretary Will Tracey said: “We have a major wind project that would create thousands of jobs and provide clean, reliable energy for more than a million Australian households, but because of their ideological hatred of renewable energy the Morrison government appears to be actively stalling its development.”

The Coalition government of Prime Minister Scott Morrison is sharply at odds with the pro-renewables stance of the opposition Labor Party and many of its states. The issue of energy and climate policy is likely to loom large in national elections this year.

Taylor was billed as the “most anti-renewable, climate change-denying” politician ever to hold the post of energy minister when Morrison appointed him last year.

Tracey said: "The Star of the South project has been in the works since 2012, yet in this time no legislation has been put forward, no regulatory framework put in place, and no responsible agency nominated, despite offshore wind being an established industry internationally.

"Rather than support renewable energy projects, under the Morrison government we can't even get approval for a few wind measurement buoys off the Gippsland coast.”

Star of the South CEO Andy Evans told Recharge last year the project hopes to be in a position by the end of 2020 where all the key elements are in place for it to proceed towards a final investment decision.

Star of the South has been contacted by Recharge for a comment on the MUA’s claims.

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