Its time to dump AGL

Its time to dump AGL

Friends,

Protecting Westernport Bay, our communities, and our climate means stopping
AGL and their dirty gas plans.

Nearly 5000 of you pledged to boycott AGL should they press on with their gas import terminal plans at Westernport. This week AGL have notified the community that the environmental assessment process will soon begin. AGL’s CEO Brett Redman also recently called for the government to fast track this assessment.

 

It’s clear that AGL have not listened to us.

So now we rally.

Now we show AGL that we mean business.

What: Online Rally against AGL
When: Tomorrow (Thursday 11 June) at 12pm-1:30pm AEST
Where: Online – RSVP here to get the Zoom link: https://envict.org/ditchAGL

Those of you who are AGL customers for your gas or electricity can show AGL we mean business, by changing to a new provider of your choosing.

You can make the switch during the rally tomorrow.
It’s simple to do – 
Here are two independent resources to help you decide which energy provider you’ll switch to:

  • Victorian Energy Compare (by the Victorian State government)
    https://compare.energy.vic.gov.au/retailers
  • Green Electricity Guide (by Greenpeace Australia Pacific)
    https://www.greenelectricityguide.org.au/

For those of us who ditched AGL some time ago, tomorrow we will take action to show
everyone else in our networks what AGL is trying to do.

If enough of us join, AGL will feel the heat.

I can’t wait to take action with you tomorrow!

Victor
on behalf of Environment Victoria and Save Westernport

EES Update from Minister Wynne

EES Update from Minister Wynne

EES UPDATE 

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 secretary@savewesternport.org
We hope to raise enough money to fund this work.

  • Endangered Species
  • Ramsar Wetlands
  • Social, Economic, Loss of Amenity, Planning Impacts
  • Pollution: Air Water Light Noise
  • Bushfire/Risk/Safety

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.

Warm Regards,
Julia Stöckigt, Secretary SWP Inc

Please contact us at secretary@savewesternport.org

 

 

An overview of environmental impact assessment under the Environment Effects Act 1978

An overview of environmental impact assessment under the Environment Effects Act 1978

Courtesy of Environmental Justice Australia

To read this important ‘Having your say’ paper, please go to this link
Please note that although these fact sheets focus on mines and quarries, the Environment Effects Statement (EES)
process will be the same for the AGL gas import project.

AGL have delivered their EES report to DELWP

AGL have delivered their EES report to DELWP

In the final week of April, Save Westernport received some important news about the Environment Effects Statement, or EES for the Crib Point proposal. According to AGL, the reports for their Gas Import proposal have now been submitted to the Department for Environment Land Water and Planning, (DELWP). 

Although we’ve been waiting nearly 2 years for the opportunity to read the details of AGL’s plans and raise our concerns about the project, many are now wondering “how can the Public Exhibition period required for the EES possibly go ahead under current COVID-19 restrictions?” 
AGL’s apparent push for the EES to proceed without consideration for the implications of the current state of emergency on people’s lives is consistent with the contempt they’ve shown this community and its wishes ever since their incursion into Westernport began in 2017.                                                                                                                

It is essential that the Minister remains beyond the influence of AGL. By making use of his discretionary powers, he can ensure that the EES does not proceed in a way that is rushed or that appears to give the proponent an advantage. Compromising the effectiveness of the EES to accomodate the proponent would be highly inappropriate, particularly if it incorporates new untried methods that could be seen to discourage community involvement or that limit the effectiveness of their contribution. 
No precedent exists for an EES to be held only online.

The Save Westernport Steering Committee strongly believes that the EES must not proceed under these conditions, and we have emailed the Victorian Minister for Planning Richard Wynne, asking him to postpone the Public Exhibition phase until the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic have been lifted. (See below)

We urge you to support our request to the Minister by emailing or calling his office today. Please tell him the Public Exhibition stage must be postponed to allow the community to engage in an EES process that is balanced and fair – and is perceived as such. 
You are welcome to incorporate parts of our example letter , or use it to inspire your own.
Please send it torichard.wynne@parliament.vic.gov.au

We would very much appreciate it (optional ofcourse!) if you could BCC us in to your email to the Minister using this address:
secretary@savewesternport.org

  • Call Mr Wynne at his Parliamentary office: (03) 8683 0964

  • Inform our local Members and other Ministers. Let’s make sure our political leaders are in no doubt about the extent of this Community’s opposition to to AGL’s plans and concern about the way its environmental impacts will be assessed.
    This list makes it easy, just click on each Members’ email to send them a message (and bcc us in), or call them to make your views known. 

Federal Member for Flinders  Greg Hunt     (03) 5977 9082
greg.hunt.mp@aph.gov.au           

Victorian Minister for Environment and Energy, Lily d’Ambrosio lily.d’ambrosio@parliament.vic.gov.au      9637 9504

Premier  Daniel Andrews    03 9651 5000   daniel.andrews@parliament.vic.gov.au  

Victorian Member for Nepean    (03) 5986 6661.  
chris.Brayne@parliament.vic.gov.au
     

Victorian Member for Hastings   (03) 5977 5600
neale.burgess@parliament.vic.gov.au     

Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas   (03) 9741 1133. tim.pallas@parliament.vic.gov.au

Victorian Minister for Ports Melissa Horne     03 8392 8020   Melissa.Horne@parliament.vic.gov.au

Please consider the urgency of this request, and write to Mr Wynne and your Ministers today.

Our request will have far more impact if it is supported by you.

Please forward this information to everyone you know who opposes AGL’s plans in Westernport, asking them to also appeal to Minister Wynne to insist that the time frame for the EES is reassessed in the context of COVID-19.

——————————————————————————————————————————————-

Save Westernport’s letter to Minister Richard Wynne:                                                                                                                     30 March 2020 

The Hon Richard Wynne MP                                                                                    Minister for Planning PO Box 500                                                                                                               East Melbourne 3002

Dear Minister 

Re Crib Point AGL gas import jetty and APA Crib Point-Pakenham gas pipeline (2018-R05) Environment Effects Statement: Request for delay in exhibiting the EES due to COVID -19 until the pandemic is over

As you’re aware, Save Westernport Inc is a community group representing many thousands of people around the Mornington Peninsula and Westernport Bay who are deeply concerned about the potential impacts of AGL’s Crib Point Gas Import Jetty and Pipeline proposal.

We are particularly concerned that AGL’s project continues to threaten the Westernport community, its Ramsar wetlands and many areas of high conservation value.

Based on the latest information from the proponents and DELWP, we understand that the exhibition period for this EES is currently scheduled to commence in late May to early June 2020.

In light of unprecedented Government measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we are writing to request the postponement of the Exhibition period of this EES, until all current bans and shutdowns are lifted, and the pandemic has been declared over by W.H.O. and/or the Victorian government. 
Current COVID-19 restrictions go to the heart of how we operate and connect with our communities, and while the internet can provide some limited means of communication, we can no longer hold public meetings or work together collectively to plan our response to the proponents’ reports, and prepare for the various aspects of the EES, and the implications of AGL’s plans.

The exhibition phase is intended to be a period of widespread consultation, but current stay-at-home measures will prevent community organisations and the general public from effectively participating in this important part of the EES process.

The extent of public concern and interest regarding these proposals is immense. This is especially true on the Mornington Peninsula, and on Phillip and French Islands, where it’s unlikely most communities will have ready access to either a physical copy of the EES, or to reliable internet services to download the material.

The Public Exhibition period is called this because under the Act, copies of the proponents’ reports are exhibited, or made available in local libraries for the public to view. We are concerned that current lockdown restrictions that require the closure of public libraries will make it impossible for the public to view these documents. These restrictions will continue for the foreseeable future.

Our advice from DELWP has been that this is among the most complex EESs ever undertaken in Victoria. The proponents’ reports are likely to be highly technical and voluminous. This is because AGL’s proposal is extremely complex and essentially comprises two projects in one: the FSRU floating gas factory, for which there is no precedent in Australia, and the 56km high pressure LNG pipeline, through protected wetlands and productive market gardens.

After waiting nearly two years for these reports to be finalised, we are extremely concerned that the community’s opportunity to submit their objections to the proposal will be severely compromised.

Attempting to hold this EES online would severely restrict public involvement, and result in far fewer submissions—an outcome that would greatly greatly benefit the proponents, AGL.

Without effective participation, the EES process will be deeply flawed and will not be representative of relevant and widespread community perspectives and views on this proposed project.  

The Hearing during public inquiry phase could not be held at all under current conditions as this involves public meetings and presentations that will also need to be delayed.

According to the Ministerial Guidelines the EES process is designed to be flexible. We strongly submit this project is exceptional; it is unique and its impacts are both extensive and long term. Accordingly, we respectfully ask that you apply your discretionary power to postpone the EES. 

Business-as-Usual cannot apply in these difficult and unprecedented times of COVID-19  pandemic. We appreciate your considered and timely response to our urgent request in the current exceptional circumstances.

Yours  sincerely                

Secretary, Save Westernport Inc.                                                 

 

 

Continue reading “AGL have delivered their EES report to DELWP”

EPBC Act Review public submissions UPDATE- now open til May 1  2020

EPBC Act Review public submissions UPDATE- now open til May 1 2020

The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) is under review for the first time in many years.

IMPORTANT UPDATE :
The Public Comments period has just been extended!
The EPBC website now states that the initial April 17 deadline for submissions has now been extended til May 1 2020

It is vital that members of our community make submissions to this EPBC Act review to ensure that laws relating to inappropriate industrial developments in Ramsar wetlands, such as the proposed AGL gas import terminal project in Westernport Bay, are not modified or watered-down.
 
Why not make a Submission to tell the review panel why you care about making sure Australia’s environmental protection laws are strong enough to do what they are supposed to do…protect the environment?
These Laws must be strong enough to stand up to proposals driven by profit over the protection of native wildlife and habitat. They must not facilitate bad developments or make it easier for irresponsible industries to gain approvals, or “regulate themselves”. The Laws must guarantee that decisions and approvals processes for all new developments prioritise the conservation of our precious water and endangered ecosystems.

Some possible suggestions could be:
> The EPBC review panel is currently weighted towards industry and the economy, with several members with those backgrounds, and  lacks anyone with experience in environmental conservation and biodiversity or even with a background in science. 
This insufficiency is deeply concerning when the gravity and significance of this review is considered, with all its repercussions.

> The Act must acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders as the Traditional Owners of this Country, and consultation processes should be adapted and extended to incorporate the oral traditions where appropriate for sharing knowledge on Country, Culture and Law.

> New industrial proposals must comply with accepted Climate Emergency goals that limit temperature rise to below 1.5 degrees, and must only be approved if  it can be shown that they’re  
entirely necessary and preferable to the ‘no project’ scenario. Economic benefit alone is insufficient to offset any risks or impacts of a new project.

>New projects that make use of sites already degraded by industry must be prioritised over projects requiring further destruction or degradation of established or regenerating native habitat.
 
> Measures aimed at making it simpler for new projects to be approved (such as the current “One-stop-shop” goal for approvals) really should be beyond the scope of Environmental Protection laws.

> It is incumbent on Environmental protection laws to look first and foremost at the likely impacts of new projects on the proposed site, on its setting and on the areas beyond it, particularly concerning the management of wastewater and effluent from Industry and impacts on  high value conservation areas.

The EPBC Act is Australia’s primary national environmental legislation and this statutory review commenced on 29 October 2019 with Professor Graeme Samuel AC appointed as the independent reviewer. An Expert Panel has been appointed with three members: Bruce Martin, Erica Smyth and Wendy Craik – see member details here

This review will examine the EPBC Act, how it operates and consider changes needed to ensure the Act can manage current and future environmental challenges.

The EPBC Act is designed to regulate activities that may impact on environmental values of national importance.

These environmental values include Ramsar wetlands, native flora and fauna species, migratory species, protection of endangered species and biodiversity, national parks and marine parks, world heritage areas and our water resources.

Submissions may be made via the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment website here.

To assist members of our community on how to write a submission, a guide and examples of EPBC Act submissions may be found here.

The EPBC Act review online submission form can be found here.

Further details on this review of the EPBC Act can be found here. 

The final report from this review will be available in October 2020.

~the people sign~rally for Westernport ~POSTPONED

~the people sign~rally for Westernport ~POSTPONED

Like everyone else, Save Westernport and Environment Victoria have been closely following the developments around COVID-19 and public health advice.

To reduce the risk to all of us of being exposed to the virus and ensure that our events are safe for everybody, we have made the decision to postpone the People Sign Beach Rally that was planned for Sunday March 29 on Somers Beach.

Instead, we will be meeting online on March 29 at 7:30pm to discuss our visions for protecting Westernport permanently from heavy industrialisation and pollution. You can RSVP here.

We believe this is the most responsible thing to do to ensure that we are not contributing to the spread of the virus, and to protect our collective health and all those that we have contact with in our daily lives. 

We are disappointed that these circumstances mean we can’t all gather together on March 29th but we are still excited about getting together online to talk about our visions for protecting our Bay permanently from heavy industrialisation and pollution.

You can RSVP here. Here is a how-to guide demonstrating how to use zoom for online meetings. If you would like a call beforehand to discuss how to use zoom, let us know by responding to this email. 

Even though COVID-19 has put a temporary break on our in-person protests and actions we are not giving up the fight. We will simply find new ways to express our outrage together and tell AGL to drop their plans for a gas import terminal in our Bay.

We will confirm new dates for the People Sign so that it can proceed at a later date that is safe for everyone.

Key things for your action now:

  1. RSVP to the zoom call.
  2. Let us know if you need a call from us to help you use zoom.

Can’t make this time? We will host a second webinar. Click here to let us know which time works for you.

If you have any questions, please contact me by responding to this email.

In solidarity, 
Victor Komarovsky
And the teams at Environment Victoria and Save Westernport

Julie Lyford OAM (Groundswell Gloucester) visits Crib Point

Julie Lyford OAM (Groundswell Gloucester) visits Crib Point

On Tuesday February 18th 2020, Save Westernport members and supporters gave a big welcome to Julie Lyford OAM.

Julie is the Chairperson of Groundswell Gloucester, a community group who were instrumental in 2016 in stopping AGL’s coal seam gas project (fracking) in Gloucester NSW as well as the ground-breaking climate legal decision in 2019 against the Rocky Hill coal mine proposal in the Gloucester valley to stop the mine from going ahead on environmental grounds.

Julie is the former Mayor of Gloucester and in 2015, she was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for services to the Environment, Community and Local Government.

In her presentation to our Save Westernport meeting, Julie spoke about how the Gloucester community fought tooth and nail for 10 years to stop AGL from “fracking” in their precious valley.

Her advice to the audience was “Never to give in!” and to tell AGL “If they don’t discontinue their dangerous, floating gas factory proposal in your pristine UNESCO Biosphere and RAMSAR eco-system in Westernport Bay then you will do everything in your combined community power to ensure that the AGL brand will suffer which will seriously impact their bottom line.”

Julie told the audience that AGL knew that CSG exploration and fracking in the Gloucester basin and Manning Valley catchment could have serious risks of polluting water sources, agricultural lands and air quality.

After proving that the independent experts were correct, the Groundswell team with the collaboration of hundreds of individuals and over 32 organisations fought and won and saved the valley.

We thank Julie for making the long journey from Gloucester to Crib Point to share her knowledge of community action and her years of experience in fighting dangerous industrial developments.

Visit Groundswell Gloucester here.

“The Town That Said No To AGL” is a book about the battle for Gloucester by local residents against government and corporations – order your copy here.

 

World Wetlands Day 2020

World Wetlands Day 2020

Today is World Wetlands Day and Save Westernport celebrates all things wetlands as one of the most precious ecosystems on our planet.

We must all do everything we can to protect, preserve and enhance our wonderful wetlands.

On this day we call out to everyone to ensure no more wetlands are threatened and to ensure that proposed threats like the AGL Floating gas plant at Crib Point in Westernport bay are rejected.

Tell AGL you do not support their plans, tell your local Member of Parliament and tell your friends to boycott AGL.

Sign our Petition

Sign the pledge to boycott AGL

Celebrate our wetlands

World Wetlands Day on Sunday 2 February 2020 at Boneo Park

World Wetlands Day on Sunday 2 February 2020 at Boneo Park

World Wetlands Day will be celebrated again on Sunday 2nd February 2020.

2nd February each year is World Wetlands Day to raise global awareness about the vital role of wetlands for people and our planet.

This day also marks the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar on the shores of the Caspian Sea.

The theme for 2020 is Wetlands and Biodiversity – visit the Ramsar website here.

Boneo Park (near Tootgarook Wetland) will be hosting a number of activities on the day including wetland walks, a workshop and speaker Sean “The Birdman” Dooley.

The Boneo Park property has the largest privately protected habitat on the Mornington Peninsula with over 160 bird species across 300 hectares.

Tickets are only $5.00 and children under 13 are free – see website here.

                                                                                      

 

Thank You and Best Wishes for 2020!

Thank You and Best Wishes for 2020!

Save Westernport would like to thank all our volunteers, donors and supporters for their help and encouragement during a busy 2019!

Special thanks to Environment Victoria, Crib Point Community House and the local businesses that continue to support us.

From the Peninsula’s Biggest Paddle Out at Shoreham Beach in January to the May Day community meeting at Balnarring Hall with every Federal Election candidate rejecting AGL’s gas project, we have worked hard to raise awareness of the need to stop AGL’s plans while seeking stronger legal protections for Westernport Bay’s valuable ecological character and Ramsar status.

As long as AGL persists with their proposal to import liquefied natural gas at Crib Point jetty and threaten the unique marine environment of Westernport Bay, we will continue the fight to stop this unnecessary and unjustified industrial project.

Since August 2017, AGL and its gas pipeline partner APA have sought to gain acceptance from our local communities and the Victorian State Government for this gas import project.

Their efforts will be a waste of time (and shareholder’s money) because we will never approve any heavy industry project that pollutes Westernport Bay and risks the safety of local residents and visitors.

We ask the AGL Board to make the right decision in 2020 and withdraw this flawed proposal and all the associated risks and hazards.

We wish you all a safe Christmas and a happy New Year in 2020!