The Climate Council have launched a new report outlining a plan to create hundreds of new jobs in central west NSW, and 76,000 nationwide jobs within the next three years.
The Clean Jobs Plan is based on modelling by economic advisors Alphabeta and outlines 12 policy options to create jobs fast.
The Plan states that with accelerating the development of the Renewable Energy Zone (REZ), more jobs would be created.
The NSW Government is in the feasibility and planning stage for the state's first pilot REZ, which is set to be built in the Central-West Orana region.
According to the NSW Government's description, it is expected to unlock up to 3000 megawatts (MW) of new generation by the mid-2020's and be worth around $4.5 billion in private sector investment once fully developed.
The Central-West Orana REZ is also expected to support 450 construction jobs in the local region.
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The Central-West Orana region was chosen for the first pilot REZ because it benefits from relatively low build costs, a strong mix of energy resources, and significant existing investment and investor interest.
Climate Council researcher Ella Weisbrot said the Plan's aim is to put 76,000 people back to work, reboot the economy and set Australia up for the future.
Some of the findings from the Plan include:
- In NSW, up to 8,000 jobs can be created in active and public transport; up to 5500 jobs in large scale renewable energy, transmission and battery storage.
- Up to 3000 jobs in improving the collection of organic waste; up to 2500 in making buildings more energy efficient; and up to 2,200 jobs in ecosystem restoration.
- Some jobs could be created now; all would be created within 3 years.
- Four proposed projects-the Dunedoo solar farm, Molong solar farm, Uungula wind farm, and Gilgandra solar farm-could create 610 jobs in the region.
- Every dollar of public investment in large-scale renewable energy will unlock a further $3 in investment from the private sector.
Ms Weisbrot said industry's such as agriculture and tourism have been some of the hardest hit from the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The report is specifically targeted for regions like the central west that have been facing a whole range of challenges recently," she said.
"It's an opportunity to get people back into work quickly, maximise private investment... and tackle long-term challenges like climate change at the same time."
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The researcher said the NSW Government identified the central west as a high potential region for renewable projects through its Central-West Orana REZ, but could accelerate these projects to ensure jobs happen on the ground as soon as possible.
"What we've created with the Clean Jobs Plan is 12 practical policy solutions that state and territory governments could implement immediately to start creating jobs immediately and continue creating jobs," Ms Weisbrot said.
"We hope state governments take these plans and run with them.
"They can start putting some of these policies in place now to start getting Australian's back to work."
Narromine farmer and renewable energy advocate Karin Stark said if done right the Central West Orana Renewable Energy Zone will bring massive benefits to communities and farmers.
Ms Stark lives on an irrigation farm with her partner and founded the National Renewables Agriculture Conference.
She said if the government's spending goes the way this plan is hoping there will be a lot of job opportunities available for people.
The Narromine farmer said it was great to see so many solar and wind farms either approved, in planning or operating across the region.
"It's great for regional Australia, because not only do farmers get a secondary income from hosting large scale solar and wind, but there's other benefits such as extra shade for sheep in summer and protection from wind in lambing season," Ms Stark explained.
"Agriculture and renewables can be combined in really positive ways..."
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She hopes government spending can be used in ways that ultimately improve climate change.
"There's really an opportunity here for us to be putting money that would help tackle problems rather than do short-term quick fixes," Ms Stark said.
"But it's really exciting to know about this report, because it means a lot of people who have lost their jobs (due to COVID-19) could get work very quickly, whether in the transport or utility sector... hopefully they will continue to consult and lobby for these changes."
Ms Stark and her partner run cotton in summer and wheat, barley or sorghum in winter, but until now haven't been able to put in a winter crop for about three years.
"We haven't been able to grow anything for the last two years and that means when farmers don't have an income, and we're lucky to have groundwater for our cotton, but... when there's no income being made on farms that flows onto local economies...," she said.