On this page:

Protecting the environment

A healthy environment is vital to Victoria’s liveability and sustainability. It provides clean water and air, habitats for species, and is fundamental to many of Victoria's regional industries such as agriculture, tourism and fishing.

That's why we are working with regulators and experts, Traditional Owners, industry and community stakeholders to protect and preserve our environment through a range of biodiversity, wildlife, sustainability, climate change and community initiatives.

As a new industry for Victoria and Australia, we recognise there are uncertainties around the risks and potential impacts of offshore wind development to our marine and coastal environment. That’s why we are working to strengthen our understanding of offshore wind and the environment and ensuring we align Victoria’s renewable energy objectives with our environmental values.

How do we ensure the environment is protected?

All offshore wind projects will be subject to robust Victorian and Australian government environmental management and impact assessment frameworks before, during and after operations begin.

Environment impact assessments are prepared as part of an Environment Effects Statement (EES) under the Environment Effects Act 1978 (EE Act) and are open for public comment.

For assessment of environmental effects under the EE Act, the meaning of 'environment' includes physical, biological, heritage, cultural, social, health, safety and economic values.

Read more about the EES process.

Offshore wind projects must also be assessed under the Australian Government’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

An assessment under the EPBC Act includes construction, operation and decommissioning of wind turbines, cables, substations and associated infrastructure. It must take the following into consideration:

  • Australia’s obligations under the Ramsar Convention
  • Relevant biodiversity conventions (e.g. Biodiversity Convention, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES))
  • Requirements of a recovery plan, conservation advice or a threat abatement plan for a listed threatened species
  • Australia’s obligations under migratory species conventions and treaties, including the Japan-Australia Migratory Bird Agreement (JAMBA), China-Australia Migratory Bird Agreement (CAMBA), Republic of Korea Australia Migratory Bird Agreement (ROKAMBA), Bonn Convention and Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP)
  • A management plan in force for an Australian Marine Park (AMP)
  • Public consultation and feedback on the proposed project.

Read more about the EPBC Act process.

Reducing the risk to marine life

Before carrying out any activities, a licence holder must have a management plan approved by the Offshore Infrastructure Regulator. The management plan sets out how activities are to be undertaken, and how risks will be addressed, including reducing the risk to whales and other marine animals. Regulations setting out management plan requirements are currently in development by the Australian Government.

During the investigation and construction of an offshore wind project, developers apply a range of protective measures such as:

  • restricting vessel speeds
  • using thermal imaging and other observation methods to look out for and track marine animals and other protected species
  • shutting down sound sources if marine mammals are detected within a certain distance
  • maintaining exclusion zones around vessels.

The exploration technology used in offshore wind projects is different to that used by the offshore oil and gas industry to detect oil and gas deposits. Oil and gas exploration uses a method called seismic testing or seismic blasting. This method refers to powerful sound sources, such as deep penetration seismic air gun surveys.

Offshore wind projects use less invasive technology than those used for offshore oil and gas exploration.  The technology used for offshore wind includes non-seismic high resolution geophysical (HRG) surveys. Non-seismic HRG surveys are not ‘seismic blasting’. They are non-intrusive investigations that are used to map the seafloor and the geology underneath it to identify archaeological resources and debris left by other ocean users.

Non-seismic HRG surveys involve acoustic equipment using varying frequencies of sound and passive sensors which are silent. This equipment is towed above the seafloor by slow-moving vessels. The sound sources in these surveys are much lower in energy, travel far shorter distances and disappear quickly.

There had been some concern in the United States about the potential impact of offshore wind project development following some unexplained whale deaths. In response, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration undertook studies which identified that there are no known links between these deaths and ongoing offshore wind surveys.

There is no evidence of offshore wind project development harming marine mammals or protected species. It has been concluded that other factors – including climate change – may have caused the deaths.

The Australian Government has published its own guidance on environmental factors for offshore wind projects under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act)  to support the industry to identify and manage impacts to the environment.

Visual amenity

All offshore wind farms will be located in waters governed by the Australian Government.

Gippsland region

The Gippsland declared offshore wind area begins at least 10km from shore.

Potential developers are currently being assessed for a feasibility license by the Australian Government. They will need to consult on the location and placement of turbines as part of their management plan and to support assessment under the EPBC Act.

Our new interactive images will help you visualise what wind turbines off the coast of Gippsland might look like.

Southern Ocean region

The Southern Ocean declared area begins at least 15km from shore.

The Australian Government’s application period for feasibility licences is open and will close in July 2024.


International offshore wind projects have shown that they can share space with commercial fishing activities. However, this is a new sector in Victoria, so further work will be undertaken to understand how fishing activities and projects interact in the same areas.

For example, there may be small, restricted areas around turbines and substations. There may also be larger restricted areas while approved construction takes place. The exact details of any restricted areas will be determined on a project-by-project basis, with developers required to demonstrate how they will share the area with other users. They will need to have a plan for gathering and responding to ongoing feedback throughout the life of the project.

The impact of offshore wind on recreational fishing has been examined overseas. It suggests that offshore wind farms and fishing can, in many cases, share the same space.

The Australian Government has released advice on Offshore renewables and interactions with fisheries.

Want to learn more?

Explore our technical guidance material on the existing legislative process that offshore wind developers will be required to undertake, including the environmental and biodiversity approvals.

Explore our wind turbine visualisations page to find out more about how offshore wind farms might look in Victoria.

Page last updated: 24/04/24