Darwin council says reports it's getting $4.5m from federal government are misleading, as it had no say in funding

The federal government has promised to fund the construction of a wind farm and solar farm in a bid to boost the northern Australia economy, but on Friday local media reports suggested a much larger project, a tidal pool, was going to get a $4.5m boost from the fund.

The reports said the federal government will contribute $4.5m, with the Northern Territory government contributing the rest of the $30m project. This is a controversial project, because many in Darwin oppose the construction of a tidal pool.

The Unity Project was to be one of the largest tidal pools in the world, and the project sought to provide a part of the city’s skyline that was not filled with blaring wind turbines.

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The NT government owns 100 hectares of land near the city’s waterfront, which would be used to site the tidal pool.

The project was widely supported, although residents and businesses have expressed concerns about having a tidal pool as a visible public sculpture or being negatively affected by hydro turbines and underground power lines.

Andrew Petter, chief executive of the NT Association of Townships, said: “There is strong community support for these plans and we are continuing to work with the local council to reach a deal to get this project off the ground.”

But the NT government has denied it was funding the project. The chief minister Michael Gunner said reports had a “bias against wind and solar” and were misleading, in a tweet that noted the government had proposed to make more than $7m available to renewable energy projects.

The NT minister for Aboriginal affairs, Colleen Chenery, described the claims as “absolute crap”.

Colleen Chenery () If this is right, whufas be appalled. A lie. We have offered wind energy & solar power projects money, but it's misrepresented by a biased item

For the record, $7m is the amount of money allocated by the federal government to community renewable energy projects.

The Unity Project proposed a 1.6MW tidal pool with more than 8.5m cubic metres of shell, comprising a 90m-long oval and eight 450m wide walls.

The wind farm, which would produce 400 megawatts, would be located 12km north of Darwin and would cater for the nation’s growing wind market.

The salmon farm site would be used to irrigate farmland, while the 1.1MW solar farm would be deployed near the wind farm.

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The NT government and a renewable energy development corporation have also jointly announced a project aimed at creating 30,000 jobs in the region over the next 15 years.

“The establishment of the Northern Australia Sector Investment Corporation is to enable a potential rise in spending and employment across the Northern Territory economy, as wind, solar and geothermal power generation grows,” the project was reported as saying.

A further development will look at applying solid waste management systems for wind farms.

The parties said in a joint statement that the two projects would be constructed to receive “the maximum environmental benefit from renewable energy, as well as minimising carbon emissions as much as possible”.