‘To all the Victorian family who are doing it tough with COVID I’m sending you my love and prayers right now.
‘To all the Victorian family who are doing it tough with COVID I’m sending you my love and prayers right now.
Have Your Say – Make a Submission
You can have your say on this project by making a written submission to State Government. Details on how to make a submission are here.
You can make a submission as part of a Residents Group or Community Organisation, however petitions don’t count as a submission.
The Mornington Peninsula Shire Council held a community information session about the AGL project on Thursday 16 July. Due to Coronavirus restrictions, the session was held as an online webinar. You can watch it here
Members of the public joined the webinar on the night, where Council officers provided an outline of:
Members of the public had the opportunity to ask their own questions via the online chat function.
Please note: For those who could not attend the webinar, a recording of the session and copy of the PowerPoint have been uploaded to the Council’s website.
Save Westernport has made the Council’s presentation available here
The EES is our chance to have our say on the AGL proposal.
Save Westernport encourages you to make a submission and attend our information session with Environment Victoria to find out how.
We’ll let you know the details soon.
Mornington Peninsula Shire Council will be holding an online Community Information Session on Thursday 16 July 2020 from 5:00pm.
Members of the public can join the webinar on the night for free and without needing to register via Microsoft Teams link http://bit.ly/2DrLDCd
During the webinar, Council officers will provide an outline of:
Members of the public will have the opportunity to ask their own questions via the online chat function.
See website link here.
There’s an Executive Summary, three volumes of reports, and several attachments including Environmental Risk and Climate Change RiskAssessments and Maps.
The EES also contains the following technical reports:
You can also make a submission about the AGL Crib Point proposal using the online form on the EngageVic website here:
While that’s a simple way to comment on the AGL proposal, it’s likely that an independent submission from you will probably ‘count’ for more.
Best to start reading the reports that interest you, taking notes on whatever concerns you, and watch this space for more information about how to write your own submission —and make sure your voice is heard.
It is horrifying that we have to fight our own Government to save the environment.
What’s in a name like “Westernport Bay”? An unpretentious name, perhaps even somewhat unremarkable. A name you would be forgiven for passing over when planning your next camping or fishing trip, day outing, walk, photographic excursion, swim. But oh! it’s a name that belies the world that is Westernport – Warn Marring.
Hop in the car, on the train and bus, or on your bike! Let’s go!
You’ll find the journey itself feels like traveling through a portal to another time – a journey which takes you across the magnificent vistas of Mornington Peninsula, which together with Westernport Bay is one of our nation’s 9 UNESCO biospheres and a RAMSAR site of international ecological importance. Yes, you know this in your head, but as you make your way, you’ve noticed a melting away, a release of tension as your shoulders soften, your breath slows and deepens. You may feel somewhat mesmerised by the gentle undulating land through which you travel.
You may not know it right now, but this is a journey you’ll relish with the greatest anticipation, for all of your life. A journey which you’ll want to share with those you love most. A journey you’ll be drawn to make – like a migratory bird – throughout the seasons.
After the picturesque drive you’ll arrive, catching a glimpse of her waters, sometimes cerulean, sometimes ultramarine blue. You’ll feel surprisingly relaxed after your journey, because there won’t have been miles of traffic and bottlenecks to hinder your way, and you may feel a fleeting curiosity about the absence of congestion. Then you’ll take that first step out. You’ll step out under the spacious skies above Westernport Bay, you’ll walk to the shoreline anywhere between Flinders and the Nobbies at Philip Island. You will be transformed, renewed and never the same.
What do I mean by transformed, you ask?
Well, at a glance you will appreciate the quiet beauty. But if you spend a little more time, linger and gaze out across the Bay, it won’t be long before you grow to know that you have arrived in a place of great mystery and sacredness. At first you may find it difficult to put into words, the all pervasiveness of the deep “something” that you sense. This “something” you will feel compelled to find words to describe, to convey to others. Perhaps you’ll say “Westernport Bay has cast a spell” over you.
Is it the light at a certain time of day – the pastel muted colours shimmering on the water – pink, purple, mauve, soft blue? Is it the enormous fluffy clouds floating just above the horizon, reflecting their white light on the waters below? You may ask yourself, “how is it the clouds themselves have a luminosity that lights up the calm Bay beneath them, and makes it glow white?”. You thought this mastery over the water was reserved for the heavenly bodies of Sun and Moon, not the lowly clouds! And yet, at Westernport Bay, you will find the clouds reflect a pathway to you standing on the shore there!
You will most certainly take a walk. Perhaps across a long sandy beach where the red capped plover nests, fringed by thick coastal woodland, wetland and dotted with banksia. Or by the banks of a hidden tidal creek where you’ll hear frogs, reedwarblers, yellow robins, superb fairy wrens and honey eaters, and you’ll make a mental note to bring binoculars next time. Perhaps you’ll stroll along a low boardwalk beside gentle sea meadows, salt marshes and mangroves marvelling at the resident or migratory wading birds. You’ll gaze out over the swathes of rich fertile mudflats which nourish them. Perhaps you’ll traverse a high boardwalk hugging the rugged windswept cape where fairy penguins roost. You may meander a sandy track beneath the steady gaze of 500-year-old Moonah trees on one of the Bay’s National Parks. Or wander the sand dunes overlooking a glistening surf beach beckoning, or tip toe across shiny black volcanic rock pools at low tide.
What you’ll notice is that every terrestrial and celestial thing is full, abounding with a gentle benevolence. Teeming with life, the abundance both soothes and enlivens your senses. You feel held and embraced without having to ask. You feel comforted by the stillness, the quiet. You come to understand this deep peace and profound stillness is what nurtures a gazillion birds at the end of their long journey from the Arctic and allows the marine life to thrive. The benevolence of the Bay is palpable. It’s in the air, on the breeze off the water, in every aspect – so much so, you start to understand you are a part of the deep, generous web of life you’ve found here. You will inhale the goodness deeply, and you’ll exhale deeply. You will take it all in – and let go.
You won’t feel small or overwhelmed. You’ll feel in communion as with a dear friend, welcomed by the full and generous place that is Westernport Bay.
You will see groups of people quietly walking, fishing, sailing, beachcombing, talking – unpretentious. Everything feels perfectly balanced. Everyone seems to share in the deep knowing, which, like you, they have found here.
You may feel you have woken in a dream, with a sense of place so magical, you could be walking through the pages of a picture book you read as a child.
You come to understand Westernport Bay’s uniqueness.
Our children knew it too, because they felt safe to wander freely in the Bay’s gentle snug circular lap, comforted by long slender land arms they could see across the water. They banded together to explore, inspired by the sense of wonder and adventure they developed here, unperturbed. They delighted in covering themselves from ankles to earlobes in an impervious layer of thick pasty mud from the “crater” at the creek and paraded in sheer joy their mud-suits. They kayaked alongside playful dolphins and dared each other to swim to the orange buoys floating offshore, noticing the distance of the swim varied according to the tides. They set off in the mornings to explore rock pools and they trekked together to the high dunes in the baking heat, mid-Summer, and found respite in the cool sand beneath the dense dune scrub, rewarding themselves with a game of hide and seek in the network of verdant tunnels.
If you want to give a gift to those you love most, this is it. The gift of the internationally recognised magnificent ecological, natural wonder that is Westernport Bay – home to infinite precious wildlife. A gift that will stay in your heart always to nourish you throughout the days and weeks, months and years. And if you thought someone may take this precious gift and degrade, tarnish, destroy it, would you allow that to happen?
There are many things I wish to ask our politicians, however all of them can be summed up by just one question asked of me, this week, by my soon-to-be-18-year-old daughter who is in year 12. I pose her question to the politicians, because I was unable to find a plausible answer to give her. So, on behalf of my daughter, I ask “How can the government possibly let this happen (allow AGL to do business) in a RAMSAR site of international importance? How can such a thing ever be allowed?”. I would appreciate a response to give her.
Westernport has held me for many moons. I have slept in many of the beautiful places around the Bay, from the shining jewel of French Island to the silent waters of Cannons Creek; at Cowes on Phillip Island, at Grantville, beside the wide tidal flats at Lang Lang, the peaceful Wooleys Beach and I now hear the murmur of the shore from my home in Somers.
I have walked the beach in moonlight and scooped fine fluorescent sand worms up with my hands.
I’ve watched the waterspout of a whale resting in the stretch of water between my French Island home and Cowes on Phillip Island.
I have been tossed in the troughs and peaks of churning waves during ferry crossings in rough seas and glided my kayak across the smooth waters of bays and inlets.
Bright hermit crabs have retreated under my exploration of rockpools, soldier crabs scurry into the mud, and wader birds dig long beaks in to extract them from internationally recognised migratory bird habitat.
I nursed my baby in Westernport as dolphins nurse their babies in the waters that lay ten minutes’ walk from my home.
When working at a tourism facility on French Island, I met many hundreds of people, all in awe of the amazing unique place that Westernport is. I will remember forever, standing with an overseas visitor on top of a hill overlooking the stretch of bay from Hastings to Philip Island, right where AGL propose to put a huge gas factory; she spread her arms wide, lifted her head and began to twirl as she sang a long joyful ‘ahhhhh’. Never had she seen such pristine wide space.
Large flocks of black swans feed and live in the shallows, it is told that the black swans Josephine held at Malmaison in France, the first black swans in Europe, were collected from Westernport by Baudin’s expedition in the early 1800’s.
At the Visitor Information Centre in Hastings, thousands of visitors tell of their love of the area, amazed at their discovery of such a unique place. Locals, tourists and past residents tell stories of the fabulous fishing, the great twitching experiences, times past, passion for the great Westernport diving spots “best in Victoria”, observation of and interaction with marine mammals, surfing, swimming, paddling, playing, boating, walking, relaxing and enjoying this beautiful place.
I have read a history of William Thomas, Aboriginal Protectorate, and his observations of the Boonwurrung who he lived with from 1839 – 1840. When reserves were proposed, the Boonwurrung people chose the area from Balnarring to Crib Point as their place. Unfortunately, the traditional owners were driven from this land, but locals know of middens and stone tools that have been found and survive till this day.
For decades, people have put in many volunteer hours to plant, weed, remove rubbish, educate, protect the bay from heavy industry and contribute to Westernport and its community. I am one of those many people who give time to protect and restore this unique and amazing place.
I want to go on exploring, learning and experiencing the beautiful unique environment that Westernport is. I am loath to imagine the damage that a 17 storey, third of a kilometre-long floating gas plant and subsequent ships importing the gas will do to wonderful Westernport.
At sunset on Mid-winter’s Eve, Westernport locals took to their favourite beaches in uncounted numbers for a socially-distanced Shoreline Vigil to light a candle in a show of affection and support for Westernport and of opposition to AGL
From Flinders through Shoreham, Point Leo, Merricks, Balnarring, Somers, Crib Point, Hastings and around the Bay to French and Phillip Islands and beyond, we stood vigil to symbolise our determination to stand by Westernport.
As people become aware that AGL’s gas proposal would exacerbate the climate crisis and lock us in to decades more fossil fuel use, there’s a growing sense of anger that AGL is not listening to the community.
More and more people are prepared to do whatever’s necessary to protect the Bay from the exploitation and degradation of new heavy industry, like AGL’s gas import proposal at Crib Point.
There’s a growing expectation on AGL to live up to their own policies that make admirable claims about their performance in sustainability and accountability, by withdrawing their Environment Effects Statement (EES), which is due to go on display in early July.
The Westernport community will be making the most of the opportunity for the public to comment once the EES goes on display, by expressing our fervent opposition to AGL’s ill advised plans.
We believe AGL has an excellent opportunity to lead in the real energy transition as it gathers pace on every front, rather than continuing to promote the deeply concerning view that gas is a transition fuel and ‘a safer option than coal’.
We’ll let you know when the Environment Effects Statement goes on display in early July. AGL’s reports will all be available online. Public comments will be open for just 40 days. Save Westernport and Environment Victoria encourage you to make a submission against the AGL gas import proposal in Westernport Bay during that time.
Submissions from the public don’t have to be technical. To make sure Minister Wynne’s hears your views, we’ll be providing assistance and support during the public comments stage.
Secretary Save Westernport Inc
It’s been a year since we delivered over 17,000 signatures to Brett Redman’s stunt double (after the AGL CEO reneged on his agreement to meet with us), and AGL’s plans to import gas seem more absurd now than they did then. Some of the gas AGL plans to import may have originated here in Victoria, before being sold offshore .
Yet AGL has submitted these plans to the Planning Minister for assessment in an Environment Effects Statement that has taken nearly 2 years to prepare. The EES reports are expected to be released for public comment, even as demand for gas plummets and better options abound.
AGL’s competitors at VIVA Energy announced a similar project last week that would require no new gas pipeline. It would be preferable if no new gas infrastructure is built, but there’s no doubt the Geelong site would be far more suitable than AGL’s Westernport plans. Within range of the hazard facilities that LNG operations require, Geelong would be far safer than AGL’s proposed Crib Point location, near residential communities, and primary schools.
AGL’s project could spell disaster for local communities, for Westernport’s internationally recognised Ramsar wetlands, and for our climate. A few dozen jobs, that AGL admits would not employ locals, but would require trained operators from other LNG projects, could never offset the loss of amenity, and precious peace and quiet that this project would cause.
As part of the EES assessment, Minister Wynne must consider whether the proponent has demonstrated an ability to manage risks and operate according to the law. AGL’s past record of fines and convictions does nothing to instil confidence.
Local communities in Westernport have told AGL in every way possible; they will not accept living alongside the risk of catastrophic failure, knowing AGL’s past performance of environmental mismanagement, industrial accidents and toxic spills.
Members of Save Westernport have complied a growing list of AGL’s infractions that leave us in no doubt; we do not want them as our neighbour for the next 20 years!
To help us make a compelling submission when the EES is released, Save Westernport and Environment Victoria have started planning our response. We’re seeking people who would like to
A) join our working groups, or
B) appear as expert witnesses in the EES Hearings later this year.
There are numerous areas of concern: migratory birds, water/ air/ noise/ light pollution, marine mammals, endangered species, health and psychological effects, climate change, aboriginal cultural heritage, Ramsar, impacts on tourism, economic disadvantage, pipelines, hydrology, tidal flows, shipping, gas markets and more.
You can contact us here for more information.
Save Westernport and Environment Victoria will be encouraging community groups and individuals to make submissions against AGL’s dirty gas plans once the EES goes on display.
Few people would be more profoundly affected than members of this community, so it’ll be essential for Mr Wynne to hear our views on why this choice of location is so unsound.
A project can be rejected if its potential effects on the community and/or the environment are considered too great. Based on the information AGL has made available about their gas import proposal, (see reports below) we are in no doubt that it would do nothing but disadvantage our community, degrade the environment and provide profits for the proponent AGL.
AGL has never attempted to prove their claim that gas is urgently needed to supply Victorian families and businesses. Importing cheap gas would benefit AGL, but at what cost to the local environment and the wider climate crisis?
You can sign up here for our regular Newsletter Updates or contact us email@example.com with questions about the EES. Some of our members with experience in environmental law and the EES process agree that the more submissions the Minister receives from the public, the better.
Once AGL’s EES reports are released we’ll have just 40 days to comment, and many chapters to read. We’ve been reviewing the reports that AGL prepared that led Minister Wynne to call for an EES in 2018.
It’s likely much of this information will still apply.
AGL’s Cumulative Impacts Assessment on the Crib Point project
AGL’s Online Discussion Forum
Save Westernport on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/2359810567577342/posts/3268981323326924/
Minister’s announcement in WesternPort News http://www.mpnews.com.au/2020/06/09/ten-days-added-to-ees-process/
Last week the Victorian Minister for Planning announced how the Public Exhibition Stage of AGL’s Environment Effects Statement will be run. AGL have ignored public opposition to push ahead with their unnecessary gas import proposal in beautiful Westernport Bay.
Read what the Minster said here.
Since March this year Save Westernport has written to Minister Wynne twice asking him to postpone the Environment Effects Statement . This would be consistent with the many Government processes that have been pushed back due to the restrictions of COVID-19.
You can read Save Westernport’s letter to Minister Wynne here
Our letter to the Minister was supported by similar requests from diverse groups and individuals. Letters from Victoria National Parks Association (VNPA), Mornington Peninsula Shire Council’s Mayor Sam Hearn, and from concerned members of this community represent just a fraction of the requests that the Minister received.
To enable us to make the strongest possible representation against AGL’s irresponsible plans, Save Westernport will need to meet the significant costs of engaging experienced legal council and expert witnesses to go up against AGL’s hired guns to represent this community’s interests at the EES Hearing.
It’s difficult to reconcile that it’s up to community groups like Save Westernport, with our limited resources, to go up against the vested interests of enormous corporations and the governments that support them, in order to demonstrate the extent of public opposition and concern about the destructive commercial exploitation of the natural environment.
Westernport’s significant marine ecology and remnant coastal ecosystems deserve the highest level of protection. But AGL’s long list of convictions and fines for toxic spills and environmental mismanagement makes you wonder if they are capable of overseeing the safe operation of a gas processing plant in a protected Ramsar wetland.
Although the EES offers Victoria’s highest level of environmental protection, whether or not Westernport’s internationally recognised marine ecosystems are compatible with the transport, processing and storage of LNG will now be assessed according to a process that is notoriously haphazard and relies on the discretion and views of just a single Minister.
In the Mornington Peninsula News last week Save Westernport was quoted “It is essential that the Victorian Minister for Planning remains beyond the influence of the project proponent AGL”.
Prioritising a sustainable future for our local economy, and of people’s health and well-being above the encroachment of industry and the threat of new fossil fuels projects will require the organisation and power of a unified community.
Our effectiveness during the EES Hearing will depend on the amount of money we’re able to raise to fund our legal representation and technical advice. On the homepage of our website we have a DONATE button. https://savewesternport.org/
We ask you to consider what you’re able to contribute towards this community’s representation during the EES , and decide what the value of a healthy future for Westernport is worth to you.
It was our hope that the Minister would agree to this community’s repeated request to defer the EES while COVID-19 restrictions remain in place. His decision that it will proceed will mean that while people’s lives are still disrupted by COVID-19, and many continue working and schooling their kids from home, we will have just 40 days (instead of 30) to respond to the thousands of pages of Technical reports AGL has contracted its experts to prepare in support of their application.
Without doubt these reports will claim that any disadvantages AGL may cause to the health, the economy, the environment, the people or the climate can all be justified, because the project is considered financially viable. The only thing of any consequence to AGL. as proponent of this ill-advised project, is whether they can expect to profit from it. For Westernport, so much more is at stake.
For the past two years, Members of Save Westernport have spent countless hours to fight and delay AGL’s proposal. It’s time now for the Westernport community to concentrate their opposition and determination to make sure this ill-advised proposal never gets approved.
The AGL reports will be released sometime before the end of June.
During the EES hearing we’ll require expert witnesses, and people to help us write a strong submission against AGL.
If you know someone with experience in the following key areas, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
We hope to raise enough money to fund this work.
Save Westernport will be encouraging and supporting community members to write their own submissions against the AGL proposal, When we have any further information, we’ll let you know.
You can register on our website for our regular Newsletter updates, and BECOME A MEMBER of Save Westernport. https://savewesternport.org/
Your support now is more important, and more appreciated than ever as we prepare to Save Westernport from AGL.
Julia Stöckigt, Secretary SWP Inc
Please contact us at email@example.com