Save Westernport by John Butler

Save Westernport by John Butler

John has sent us this message:
‘To all the Victorian family who are doing it tough with COVID I’m sending you my love and prayers right now.
 
I was asked by some locals in Westernport Bay to help get their message out about protecting their beloved home.
 
These are very complex and turbulent times but we can’t let the fossil fuel industry use this moment as a massive chess game strategy to twist our state and federal governments arms to their will. If ANYTHING these already established resource companies, that have massively profited off the back of our nation, making BILLIONS of dollars every quarter, should be TAXED at least as much as I am to help with the economic fall out of COVID.
 
Here’s what the @savewesternport group would like you to know :
 
Save Westernport says AGL’s plan is an environmental and social disaster.
Right now it’s still just a plan. But AGL’s Environmental Effects Statement (EES) is now
up for public comment and it’s time to say
NO!
 
AGL is using its EES to get state government approval for it’s cancerous plan. AGL will say it can manage risks to people and the environment. AGL’s track record says otherwise.
From a 6,000 litre sulphuric acid leak to an ash slurry overflow into endangered woodlands, the company has left too much environmental wreckage in its wake.
But AGL doesn’t get it.
 
They don’t care that Westernport communities have said NO! to bad ideas for over 50 years.
So what have our communities stopped? A uranium enrichment plant on French Island; a petro-chemical plant destined to discharge waste into the ocean through a pipeline
crossing Phillip Island; the gouging of kilometre after kilometre of shorelines to make wharves
for heavy industry; a huge container terminal that stood to kill the bay’s sensitive wetlands;
aluminium smelters and processing for paper and zinc.
 
The list goes on.
 
Save Westernport has talked with thousands of locals, and we know what you want. You want
a real say about what happens in your towns and communities. You want a clean bay that’s
safe for the people, businesses and wildlife that rely on it. You want an economy that protects
the beauty and promise of this incredible place.’
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Help Stop AGL. Get help with your EES submission!

Help Stop AGL. Get help with your EES submission!

It’s no surprise that people are feeling daunted by AGL’s EES – it’s over 11,000 pages of technical information with just weeks to make a comment. 

But it’s not that hard and you can make a difference. Make your concerns known by writing a submission. 

Save Westernport and Environment Victoria want to help you to add your voice by holding online workshops next week on How to Write a Powerful Submission.

RSVP via one of these links to join a forum on:

Thursday 6 August, 6:00-7:30pm
EES workshop 1

Friday 7 August, 12:00-1:30pm
EES workshop 2

We’re also planning a public forum to be held soon so people can discuss what this project would mean for the region. We hope to be joined by our elected representatives to hear what they have to say about it.

Remember during the Federal election last year Save Westernport held a public meeting where each of the candidates for the seat of Flinders campaigned against the AGL project?

Read about it here in the June 2019 issue of the Balnarring Bridge. 

The details of that online forum are still being finalised, watch this space and sign up here to receive Save Westernport’s regular newsletter for all the details as soon as they’re available
https://savewesternport.org/newsletter/

Remember over 22,000 individual submissions were received against the Narrabri gas project !

The Minister needs to receive as many submissions as possible against AGL’s plans in Westernport, so he’s in no doubt about the extent of Community opposition to AGL’s dirty and exploitative gas proposal.

Morn Pen Council Information Session on AGL’s EES

Morn Pen Council Information Session on AGL’s EES

Concerned about AGL’s LNG proposal ?                 

 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.

Community Information Session

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:

  • the project proposal,
  • approvals process,
  • Council’s planned response,
  • key dates and events,
  • answers to frequently asked questions.

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
https://youtu.be/LnLM1KIDmyk

 

  • Questions during the webinar were submitted by typing into the Q&A chat function on the screen.
  • The webinar did not have the capability to host verbal questions from guests.

    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.

AGL Gas Import Project Community Information Session on Thursday 16 July 2020 at 5:00pm

AGL Gas Import Project Community Information Session on Thursday 16 July 2020 at 5:00pm

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:

  • the project proposal,
  • approvals process,
  • Council’s planned response,
  • key dates and events,
  • answers to frequently asked questions.

Members of the public will have the opportunity to ask their own questions via the online chat function.

See website link here.

Links to AGL EES Reports

The EES reports are now available online
This includes  AGL’s Summary Report and a document called How to Navigate the EES

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:

Technical Report A: Marine Biodiversity 
Technical Report C: Surface water
Technical Report D: Groundwater
Technical Report F: Greenhouse gas
Technical Report G: Air quality
Technical Report H: Noise and vibration
Technical Report I: Landscape and visual
Technical Report J: Transport
Technical Report K: Safety, hazard and risk
Technical Report L: Land use
Technical Report M: Social
Technical Report N: Business
Technical Report O: Agriculture
Technical Report P: Aboriginal cultural heritage
Technical Report Q: Historic heritage

You can also make a submission about the AGL Crib Point proposal using the online form on the EngageVic website here:

https://engage.vic.gov.au/crib-point-IAC

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.
                                                         ~Ansell Adams

STOP PRESS ~ The EES is out now!

STOP PRESS ~ The EES is out now!

In 2018 Victorian Minister for Planning Richard Wynne called for an Environment Effects Statement on AGL’s giant gas import proposal in response to community concerns about countless safety and environmental risks.

The EES has now been released and the documents are available online.

Q: Why does AGL continue to publish lovely photos of Westernport on their reports?
We know how beautiful the Bay is. What we need to know is WHAT the spectre of the proposed FSRU ship, 17 storeys tall, would really look like at our beach. The pictures provided by AGL are misleading; they have been cropped and the schematics shown in their EES reports are not to scale.

The Public Comments period for the EES on AGL’s proposal on the Mornington Peninsula commenced on July 2 and will run until August 26 2020.

That’s just 40 business days for submissions, under and a declared Stage 4 State of Disaster. But we must prevent fossil fuels companies like AGL and APA the pipeline corp, from taking advantage of the global pandemic. From the threat to marine life and Endangered Species, to Social and Climate Impacts, there are countless reasons why this project must not be approved.

We encourage you all to make a submission during this time. You can focus on just single area or areas of concern to tell the Minister why you object to AGL’s dangerous and unnecessary plans. 

Or sign up here for support and advice from Save Westernport and Environment Victoria on how to make your submission. 

Minister Wynne needs to hear from this community, and from all Victorians why AGL’s plans to import and process gas, and to construct a 60 km gas pipeline are entirely incompatible with the proposed location in Westernport Bay.

There is nothing that AGL could do to tweak this project to make it acceptable. The government and Victorians have been misled with tales of gas shortages and cheaper prices, with AGL only now admitting that the price of imported gas would be set by international markets.

Rather than helping us transition from fossil fuels as they claim, AGL’s project would keep us burning gas for the next 20 years or more.

This project is the last thing we need. AGL have shown they are not worthy of our trust, and they’ve admitted it will not result in cheaper gas. Why would we risk degrading our precious marine life, when there is NOTHING in it for Victorians? 
This is our chance to tell the Minister why AGL’s project MUST NOT BE APPROVED.

The EES reports are now available online
This includes  AGL’s Summary Report and a document called How to Navigate the EES

There’s an Executive Summary, three volumes of reports, and several attachments including Environmental Risk and Climate Change Risk Assessments and Maps. 
The EES also contains the following technical reports:

Technical Report A: Marine Biodiversity 
Technical Report C: Surface water
Technical Report D: Groundwater
Technical Report F: Greenhouse gas
Technical Report G: Air quality
Technical Report H: Noise and vibration
Technical Report I: Landscape and visual
Technical Report J: Transport
Technical Report K: Safety, hazard and risk
Technical Report L: Land use
Technical Report M: Social
Technical Report N: Business
Technical Report O: Agriculture
Technical Report P: Aboriginal cultural heritage
Technical Report Q: Historic heritage


Watch this space for more information about how to write your submission —and make sure your voice is heard.

This is our opportunity to tell Minister Wynne that we unequivocally object to the AGL corporation and their brazen and foolhardy attempt to take-over Woolleys Beach and exploit Westernport Bay to promote and prolong the burning of LNG, a fossil fuel just as dangerous as coal.

There are numerous reasons why we have no intention of allowing this irresponsible corporation’s plans to harm our precious environment and endanger the health and safety of local communities.

Make a submission or Donate now towards our fighting fund. Your donations will help pay for our own experts to refute the various technical reports and to take on AGL with their limitless resources at the public Hearings for the EES.

Westernport Bay Heart Story by Vicky Karitinos

Westernport Bay Heart Story by Vicky Karitinos

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.

 

 

 

A HEART STORY – MY CONNECTION TO WESTERNPORT ~ by Del Skinner

A HEART STORY – MY CONNECTION TO WESTERNPORT ~ by Del Skinner

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.

Westernport Shoreline Vigil

Westernport Shoreline Vigil

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.

These qualities that matter to an informed public are also increasingly influencing international markets as they continue to divest en masse from last century’s energy technologies .

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.

You can read more about the EES in the Mornington Peninsula News, and sign up here to receive our regular Newsletter updates.

Thanks 

Julia
Secretary Save Westernport Inc
secretary@gmail.com