eNews MARCH 2023 Windfarm Project

 March 2023

Proposed Hunter Offshore Wind Project

Thursday 9 March 2023, 5:00-7:00 pm

Nelson Room, Ground Floor,
Nelson Bay Bowling Club commencing at 5:00 pm.

Our Next General Meeting scheduled for 17 April
will also be held at the NBBC. 
If you are not already a member of the Bowling Club you may join as a social member for $12 per year (financial)
which entitles you to discounts on drinks and dining.

NEXT GENERAL MEETING: Monday 17 April 2023 – 7:00 PM

This Newsletter draw members’ attention to some “breaking news’ items which should be of special interest.

Proposed Hunter Offshore Wind Project

Your attention is drawn to the following report in recent editions of the Newcastle Herald & Port Stephens Examiner.
This article provides more detailed information on the project.

Alternatively, if you do not have a subscription to the above, view the ABC article HERE.

A consultation session will be held in Nelson Bay Bowling Club Nelson Room on Thursday 9 March, 5.00-700 p.m.

A couple of key paragraphs from the ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ follow:

Visual amenity: The area being considered begins at least 5.4 nautical miles (approximately 10 kilometres) from shore. Offshore wind turbines are the tallest renewable energy option being proposed in the area, with current heights of up to approximately 250m above sea level. The relative height and visual effect decreases with distance, especially due to the curvature of the earth. We understand that the visibility of wind turbines may be of particular interest to local communities. This may be especially so if there are multiple offshore wind projects in the area. While the exact locations of future projects and number of turbines are not yet known, we encourage you to make a submission if you have suggestions as to how visual impacts could be managed.

What marine users and interests are in the area? We have undertaken initial consultation with Commonwealth and NSW Government agencies to identify interests in the vicinity of the area. Examples of marine users and interests in the area include; Native Title holders, various species of marine animal life, Defence industry, vessel traffic, weather radars, commercial and recreational fishing, owners of existing infrastructure, and tourism industry. For more detailed information, please read Marine Users, Interests and the Environment in the Hunter Region, New South Wales.

How will the environment be protected? We have consulted extensively and continue to work across Government, including with agencies responsible for the protection of the environment. Developers must receive approval under the EPBC Act for their proposals. This will include an assessment of the relevant impacts and proposed avoidance, management, mitigation and, where appropriate, offset measures, to demonstrate appropriate environmental outcomes can be achieved, and ensure minimal impact on the marine environment. For more information on how the environment will be protected, please see Marine Users, Interests and the Environment in the Hunter Region, New South Wales.

This project is of major significance to the Tomaree Peninsula and so warrants careful consideration of the pros and cons following the Consultation session.

Port Stephens Council Resolution on the DA for 1-15 Church Street (28 February)

 TRRA Disappointed by Approval of DA for 11-15 Church Street Apartments

TRRA is very disappointed that, at the Council meeting on 28 February 2023, the DA for an ‘overheight’ 81-unit apartment building at 11-15 Church Street, Nelson Bay, was approved.  Councillors to vote against approval were Clrs Anderson, Wells and Kafer.   The Mayor and Clrs Bailey and Tucker voted to approve, and the Mayor then used his casting vote and the DA was approved.

While approval was recommended by Council staff, TRRA noted that the applicant had failed to comply with the Council’s request in September 2022 to reduce ‘the building height by one floor so the infraction against the building height limit is negligible’.

As approved, it remains nearly 10% over the only recently doubled height limit of 28 metres.   In TRRA’s opinion it will, if built, significantly impact important views of the town centre and on Nelson Bay’s natural backdrop of wooded hills.

TRRA fears that the approval will continue a pattern of variation approvals which will make it more difficult to enforce height and other limits in future and may also prejudice Council’s defence of its refusal of an only slightly greater height variation at 17-19 Yacaaba St, currently under appeal.

Media Contact:
Ben van der Wijngaart
President TRRA                                                                          

Date:   3 March 2023

Report on recent TRRA achievements and, State Decisions  
(prepared by Nigel Waters, planning Sub-committee coordinator)

Success in improving key Council policies
Agenda papers for the next (14 March) Council meeting include some important policies, where some changes have been made in response to submissions from TRRA and other EcoNetwork affiliates. In most cases the Policies are significantly improved.

Tree Management chapter of the DCP
Some minor improvements have been made but our main suggestions have either been rejected or deferred to future reviews.

Tree Vandalism Policy
This Policy has been significantly strengthened, largely in response to the four submissions, including from TRRA and two other EcoNetwork affiliate groups.

Climate Change Policy
Several welcome changes have been made in response to suggestions from Climate Action Port Stephens, supported by TRRA.  This Policy is now significantly improved.

Environment Policy
Several welcome changes have been made in response the joint submission from TRRA and EcoNetwork, in addition to the significant improvements already proposed.

A new Media Liaison Policy is proposed and will go on exhibition – we will comment in due course. A revised Legislative Compliance Policy will also be exhibited – this addresses compliance by Councillors and Council officers, not the wider issue of Council’s regulatory role in relation to compliance by the community with legal requirements.

Welcome changes to DA publicity
TRRA welcomes the adoption by Council at its 14 February meeting of a revised Development Application (DA) awareness program. This includes a new ‘e-News’ service and extension of the recently re-instated press advertising of DAs from the Examiner to the News of the Area.

Council staff instability continues
TRRA is very concerned about continued high turnover of staff in the Natural Systems section of Council – for example there have been 4 Co-ordinators (the section Head) in two years, and other important positions remain unfilled.

Williamtown employment area
The State Government’s proposals for a Special Activation Precinct (SAP) adjacent to the airport have been scaled back, and the entire business case may be in doubt, largely due to the cost of drainage and infrastructure works required on this flood prone and contaminated land.  It is now clear that the main beneficiaries of any land acquisition will be speculator developers, with only a small number of families affected by the PFAS contamination having any prospect of a ‘buy-out’ offer.

Salt Ash sand mine
TRRA made a submission on a proposed new ‘wet-mine’ at Salt Ash. The multinational firm Holcim propose dredging sand from below the water table on the site of an existing ‘above ground’ sand mine off Janet Parade.  The proposal has major implications for groundwater – it is opposed by Hunter Water – and will also more than double heavy truck movements from the site, adding to a growing cumulative problem along Nelson Bay Road and other routes.

Rate rise
Council’s proposed rate rise of 9.5% for each of the next three years was submitted to iPART for approval, and iPART sought public comment during February. A final decision will be announced in May.

Road works
Work has commenced on Gan Gan Road at and near the junction with Nelson Bay Road near the Council depot. It apparently involves significant tree clearing – unfortunately detail is lacking and as usual with State ‘Blackspot’ funding there has been no opportunity for proper consultation.  TRRA has repeated its request to move the 80/60kph speed limit change location to the west of the junction, but it seems unlikely this will be considered as part of these works.

Changes to traffic management in Nelson Bay town centre are proposed to commence in April – they include speed limit reductions, extending the shared zone from Magnus St across the intersection with Yacaaba St, safety improvements at two roundabouts and moving the pedestrian crossing at Woolworths to the east.

Details of all Council project and works at https://www.portstephens.nsw.gov.au/services/projects

We understand that the State Government no longer favours a new link road to Fingal Bay, and instead is opting for improvements to the existing road network – details are awaited.

For further information on TRRA Inc submissions to issues affecting our community, incuding Federal, State, LGA DA proposals and decisions refer to our website:

Call for interest In TRRA Committee/specialist positions.

At present the key positions of

  • Vice President and
  • Media Officer

remain unfilled and are being covered on a temporary basis. Expressions of interest are invited from TRRA members or potential members who feel they may be able to contribute in these roles.

Please contact our secretary via email secretary@trra.com.au to discuss.

Geoff Washington
Acting Media Officer

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