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Battle on two fronts over Sydney Marine Park and solar

September 5, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

In a reminder of the close links between tourism and the environment, a draft plan for a new Sydney Marine Park to protect penguins, dolphins and turtles is under threat in New South Wales, while in Queensland activists are battling to promote solar energy as an alternative to big coalmines.

Last month, the NSW Government announced a bold new draft plan for a Sydney Marine Park to protect little penguins, dolphins and turtles and to conserve fishing for future generations.

The plan, which is up for public feedback until the end of the month, involves 25 sites between Newcastle and Wollongong.

The proposal has come under fire from the Shooters Fishers and Farmers party, which wants to overturn it. NSW Greens spokesman Justin Field told the ABC he was “concerned that the Government will water down what is already the bare minimum for putting aside areas for marine conservation” adding that between 90% and 95% of the Sydney Marine Park area would remain open to recreational fishing.

The Australian Marine Conservation Society and the Nature Conservation Council of NSW are campaigning to support the draft plan.

“If we don’t act now we could lose what little sanctuaries we have in these draft plans,” says Sharnie Connell of Marine Park for Sydney.

“Some people are spreading around fake maps, claiming there’s no science to support marine sanctuaries, and that fishing will be banned. It so clear that great fishing and conservation go hand in hand in NSW’s existing marine parks, such as our beautiful Solitary Islands and Jervis Bay, and right around Australia.”

Marine Park for Sydney is collecting submissions to support the marine park proposal.

IN QUEENSLAND MEANWHILE, a spirited debate continues between supporters of renewable energy and big coal. Renewable power proponents say Queensland’s planned renewable energy projects could inject AUD 24 billion into the state’s economy and support up to 35,000 jobs.

Sydney Marine Park

There are currently 50 operational renewable energy projects and 27 under construction across Queensland, according to a new Solar Citizens report by Tristan Edis, who says an additional 69 planned renewable projects await approvals.

“The renewable energy power stations built or committed to construction in Queensland since 2015 will deliver AUD 4.2 billion in investment with 5687 construction and 273 ongoing full-time jobs,” Edis says.

“If all renewable energy power plants being considered for investment were to proceed, the sector would generate six times more jobs and economic benefits to the state – that’s AUD 24 billion in investment, 34,000 construction jobs, 1500 ongoing full-time jobs.”

The Solar Citizens report also found:

  • World-class renewable energy resources: Queensland’s solar and wind farms are achieving levels of energy generation 20% to 50% greater than international standards.
  • Rooftop solar boom: There are 550,000 rooftop solar systems in Queensland and the rooftop solar industry already supports an estimated 1,200 full time jobs.
  • Savings:  Queensland homes with solar save on average AUD 720 per year on electricity bills, and businesses an average of AUD 3000. Across the state, that equates to an estimated at AUD 414 million of savings.
  • Renewable energy targets: One quarter of Queensland’s electricity will come from renewable energy sources by 2020. The additional 15,000MW of proposed new renewable projects could lift renewable energy to over 90% of Queensland’s electricity needs.

Queensland’s renewable energy boom

Solar Citizens Queensland spokesperson Louise Matthiesson said: “Queensland’s high-quality sun, wind and water resources give us a major competitive advantage over other states and countries around the world.

“Without strong, consistent and ongoing policy support for renewables, it is highly likely Queensland will miss out on many of these opportunities and fall short of reaching its target of at least 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030.

“Friday’s Clean Co announcement [the Queensland Government is creating a new publicly owned clean energy generator called CleanCo] was a welcome step, but the state still lacks a clear renewable energy industry roadmap to harness this resource to create jobs and investment for regional Queensland.”

The summary brochure and full report can be viewed here.

Written by Peter Needham

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