Piper pushes for Hunter Renewable Energy Zone

14th November 2020

Source: Newcastle Herald | By: Matt Kelly | Posted: November 14, 2020

The Hunter is set to become the state's newest renewable energy zone with three of the region's MPs lining up to ensure the necessary legislation is passed next week.

The National's Upper Hunter MP Michael Johnsen, Labor's Swansea MP Yasmin Catley and independent Lake Macquarie MP Greg Piper have each tabled amendments to the government's Electricity Infrastructure Investment Bill, which is due to be debated on Tuesday.

The Central West, New England and South West NSW have already been declared as renewable energy zones as part of the government's renewable energy infrastructure roadmap. The roadmap aims to encourage $32 billion worth of private spending on renewable technology over 20 years, with incentives for energy businesses to set up in the renewable energy zones.

The Hunter's highly skilled workforce, proximity to major power transmission infrastructure and portfolio of existing and potential renewable projects make it a logical renewable zone.

Mr Johnsen said classifying the Hunter as a renewable energy zone would help provide long-term job opportunities for mining and electricity workers.

"One thing we need to also do is make it easier for mining companies to modify their existing conditions of consent where they wish to participate in the renewable energy zone so they can plan the landform and final use while backfilling existing mining operations," he said.

Mr Johnsen's amendment seeks to have the Hunter and Lake Macquarie included in the zone, while Labor wants the zone to extend to the Central Coast and include Eraring and Vales Point power stations.

"With a huge investment in electricity infrastructure comes a unique opportunity to ensure that money gets spent boosting local jobs and employment. Labor wants to get people back to work and we want to restore our local manufacturing and engineering industries," Ms Catley said.

"With our amendments we will guarantee the economic benefits stay local and that we boost manufacturing jobs here in the Hunter and the Central Coast by opening up new export opportunities."

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