EES Directions Hearing Begins

EES Directions Hearing Begins

The Directions Hearing for the Environment Effects Statement on AGL’s gas import proposal was held on September 17.

For the first time an EES Hearing will be live-streamed via video link due to COVID restrictions.

The Hearings will be chaired by Kathy Mitchell, Chief member of the five-member Inquiry Advisory Committee Panel. The Panel was appointed by the Victorian Minister for Planning, Richard Wynne to oversee the EES Hearings and advise him of their findings at its conclusion.

Ms Mitchell was clear and direct, explaining the purpose of the Directions Hearing, and laying out the schedule. The Panel Hearings will review the Environment Effects Statement that AGL prepared, and the thousands of submissions that the public has written in response. 

The IAC Hearings will begin October 12continuing every day except Fridays and weekends until mid December. The Panel will break for Christmas and return their finding sometime in mid-February 

The Hearings will be live streamed, and recordings made available the following day along with other information on the EngageVic IAC website here

At the Directions Hearing, each of the Panel members introduced themselves, followed by the legal teams for the represented parties. These were:

– The local Mornington Peninsula Shire Council

– Cardinia Shire Council 

– Key community and environmental groups Save Westernport, Environment Victoria and Victoria National Parks Association, (VNPA) represented by Environmental Justice Australia (EJA)

– the Proponents AGL, and pipeline company APA

– the Port of Hastings Development Authority

– the EPA 

An article about the Directions Hearing appeared in the Australian Financial Review the following day. 

Probably the two most important aspects of the Directions Hearing were. 

1. Legal Counsel for Mornington Peninsula Shire Council (MPSC) requested the Hearings to be adjourned on the grounds that expert witnesses have not been able to conduct necessary site inspections due to current Stage 4 Lockdown restrictions.

They argued that it would be procedurally unfair to require expert witnesses for the Council and other groups to give evidence on subjects including visual amenity, marine impacts, coastal flora and fauna, traffic and more, without the benefit of visiting the various locations that would be affected by AGL’s project.

The IAC Panel seemed reluctant to allow any change to the Hearing schedule, but gave no reason for the rushed agenda.

In May this year AGL CEO Brett Redman claimed in The AGE that the EES process should be ‘fast-tracked’.

There is concern that this might have influenced Minister Wynne’s decision to proceed with the EES in the midst of the difficulties of COVID-19, and escalating lockdown restrictions.

The Minister for Planning refused to be swayed by appeals from Save Westernport, from the Mornington Peninsula Mayor, local Member for Flinders Greg Hunt MP, and hundreds of members of the community, asking him to consider how the limitations of the pandemic would compromise people’s ability to write submissions and participate in the Public Hearings if the EES were allowed to proceed with COVID restrictions still in effect.

This will be the first time an EES Hearing has ever had to operate remotely, and just as when our submissions were written, AGL could benefit from the considerable challenges of COVID-19.

Witnesses for AGL have been able to visit the area for the past two years without restrictions, but our experts may not even have the chance to see the proposed locations before their evidence will be required at the Hearing. 
Groups including Save Westernport will have difficulty  advising their legal teams when neither can be present at the Hearings.  

In response to the request for an adjournment, the IAC Chair asked whether the local Council could simply issue permits to allow expert witnesses to visit the proposed locations. Panel members we’re issued with permits to visit the area last week.

In his response the Shire’s legal Counsel referred to the State government’s list of exemptions to COVID restrictions, pointing out that it does not allow for witnesses.

The Panel Chair stated that twice during their recent visit to the area, the Members’ vehicle was stopped by local police patrols to check their permits and ask where the group was going.

According to Ms Mitchell, unless permits for site visits can be arranged, we may have to accept that our expert witnesses will have to give evidence without the benefit of ever viewing the areas they’re required to report on.

Nevertheless, expert witnesses will play an important role, challenging AGL and the information they provided in their EES reports during the Hearings.

You can help us meet to costs of providing expert witnesses by DONATING to Save Westernport’s Fundraising campaign here. Expert witnesses will test AGL’s claims, and present detailed evidence on key subjects at the Hearings.

 

2. The second point of interest resulting from the Directions Hearing was Panel Chair Kathy Mitchell’s announcement that the IAC overseeing the Hearings and the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council have each issued AGL and APA with requests for further information that was not available in their EES reports.

Among the many tabled documents on the IAC website, are the extensive lists of further information that the proponents must supply.

These requests confirm what we discovered when AGL’s EES reports became available: they lack important detail and rely on flawed modelling, questionable data and incorrect assumptions.

The lists of extra information required by the IAC Panel and Mornington Peninsula Shite Council  are extensive and include requests for details of tidal and weather conditions that should’ve been provided with the original field work in the original EES reports and pipeline application.

Data on greenhouse gas emissions, on the handling of chlorine and formaldehyde, management of contamination by potential acid sulphate soil (PASS), management of increased truck traffic, the inadequacy of mitigation strategies and disposal of the oily sludge produced during regasification are further examples of the kind of extra information that is sought.

Other examples were listed in an article in the Financial Review this week.

AGL needed two years to prepare their EES reports. They now have until September 25 to provide all the requested information.

Counsel for the proponent AGL, Mr Townsend attempted to make light of the requests, claiming that additional information is routinely requested at this stage. However, if these details were available to AGL, surely they would have included it in their original EES it was released.

A recording of the Directions Hearing, and thousands of submissions from the public have been made available on the IAC Planning Panels website here

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

Panel Chair, Ms Mitchell provided this list of the main themes emerging in the public submissions so far. 

Members of the public who made submissions on the EES will be able to address the Panel at the Public Hearings. Whether people initially requested to speak for one hour or one minute, the large numbers of people wanting to address the Panel has made it necessary for spoken submissions from the public to be limited to just 8 minutes each.

This stage of the Hearings probably won’t commence until about mid November, and everyone who applied to speak will address the Panel via Zoom video link.

The IAC is accepting suggestions for sites that the Panel should visit until Friday September 25. Suggested sites should be marked up using this map book 

For more information contact Andrea Harwood or Georgia Thomas of Planning Panels Victoria (03) 8392 5116

cribpoint.IAC@delwp.vic.gov.au.

The Mornington Peninsula Shire Council has suggested sites on French Island, Woolleys Beach and Warringine Park for members of the Panel to visit.

Warringine Park, between Crib Point and Hastings lies within the Westernport Ramsar site. The Park is considered significant to the survival of critically endangered migratory bird species, including the Far Eastern Curlew and the Fairy Tern. 

If the project ever went ahead, Warringine Park would be severely impacted by the construction of a new gas pipeline that would bisect its fragile wetlands.

A Virtual Tour of Warringine Park is available here

Bass Coast Council has also suggested several a locations on Phillip Island.

If AGL proceeded with their deeply unpopular plans, upper estimates of 40 LNG tankers per year would increase commercial shipping traffic in Westernport by as much as 40% for the next twenty years.

The ever-present spectre of AGL’s proposed floating gas factory at Crib Point, the visiting LNG tankers, dredging (‘levelling’) and diesel-belching tug boats, would permanently change the character of Westernport, altering its horizon from nearly every vista and vantage point around the Bay.

This and other disastrous impacts and safety concerns are explained Save Westernport’s submission against the AGL proposal and EES. Read it here.

Despite the limitations and difficulties of COVID, we should congratulate ourselves that a total of 6,059 submissions have officially been received in opposition to the AGL proposal.

These public submissions can be viewed here on the IAC website.

A controversial decision by Planning Panels Victoria has resulted in thousands of submissions not being included in the official tally.

The decision not to include several thousand submissions because they were lodged using an alternative government email address, has been disappointing. 
Understandably, people have been angered and confused, particularly because we know that the submissions were received before the deadline.

Though they won’t be counted as individual submissions, Planning Panels Victoria has said that they WILL be reviewed and the information they contain will be taken into account. 

The official total is still many times greater than numbers usually received for EES projects in Victoria, which indicates the extent of community interest, concern and overwhelming opposition to AGL’s plans.

Remember, Save Westernport is still raising urgently needed funds to take on AGL at the Panel Hearings on October 12.


Save Westernport will be represented by Environmental Justice Australia, but we are still short of our target to provide legal Counsel, and engage expert witnesses to challenge the technical and ecological information contained in AGL’s EES reports. 

The average cost of an expert witness to provide a report and undergo cross examination by AGL’s barristers is over $5,000 each.

You can help by donating towards the costs of our expert witnesses and legal representation. Our barristers will be required to attend up to ten weeks of Hearings, and will be appearing at a greatly reduced rate. 

If you’re able to help us challenge AGL, and ensure that the community is represented at the EES Hearings, 

PLEASE MAKE A DONATION TODAY.

We are determined to demonstrate how inappropriate and unnecessary AGL’s Gas import plans in Westernport really are.

 

 

Coming Up

Did you know the AGL corporation will be holding their Annual General Meeting , AGM, on October 7 2020. ?

In previous years, members and supporters of Save Westernport have attended the AGM in order to ask awkward questions of the AGL Board in the presence of their shareholders.

The AGM is as an important opportunity to raise our concerns with shareholders and board members, about the lack of Social License and absence of community approval for the Crib Point proposal.

The hypocrisy of the AGL corporation’s widespread misrepresentation  of their image as a responsible, innovative company is legendary. 
Despite giving lipservice to energy innovation and admirable sounding Sustainability Policies, the truth is ofcourse,  in practice AGL is exactly opposite, and we aim to challenge them on this whenever we can.

AGL wants to prolong the country’s hopeless dependence on gas, because it provides them with such enormous profits. They do this by postponing the inevitable uptake of sustainable energy solutions by promoting new fossil fuels projects like Crib Point..

It’s likely that sustainable energy solutions would far more advanced, and could be ready to roll out now if not for AGL spending several years and hundreds of millions of dollars attempting to gain approval for their dangerous, inappropriate, irresponsible and out dated gas proposal at Crib Point. 

But companies like AGL are under increasing pressure from their own shareholders and insurers to get with the times and do what is required by the Climate emergency.

The emphasis they put on renewables in their own advertising demonstrates the unmistakable awareness from within the highest levels of their strategic planning departments.

They know exactly their shareholders realise gas is no transition fuel, and that they expect more. They want responsible action on climate, and meaningful investment in sustainable projects, rather than having just a symbolic commitment that manifests only in their ‘greenwashing’ and advertising.

This year the AGL AGM will be streamed online, due to current COVID restrictions.

Only shareholders are eligible to attend their AGM.
However if you or someone you know holds AGL shares, and would consider allowing your shareholder status to be used by someone wanting to ask a question at the AGM, it is your right to allow a proxy shareholder to attend the AGM on your behalf.

This is a legitimate and frequently used way to affect change in the corporate realm, used to great effect by groups like Sea Shepard, Market Forces and Friends of the Earth.

If you’d like to know more, please contact Save Westernport at  secretary@savewesternport.org

Save  Westernport and Environment Victoria are planning an Action  to protest online and send our message to Boardmembers, shareholders and the media, that this community will NEVER accept AGL’s plans to import fossil fuels in Westernport. 

We know we have the support of our local Mornington Peninsula Shire Council , and Bass Coast Council, who have each declared a Climate Emergency, and have voted to oppose AGL in Westernport.

In February 2020, the Bass Coast Shire Council Announced:

1. Council declares its strong opposition to the development of fossil fuel assets on Western Port and in particular, opposition to the AGL’s proposed Gas Import Jetty project for Crib Point.

2. That Council will write to the Premier advising him that:

2.1 Council has declared a climate emergency and is currently developing a comprehensive Climate Emergency Action Plan pursuing a community target of zero net emissions by 2030.

2.2. Council strongly opposes further fossil fuel developments in Victoria and is opposed to the further industrialisation of Western Port to transport them.

Watch this space for regular updates and details of our AGM plans. 

 

 

 

Emphatic NO! to Gas Plan

Emphatic NO! to Gas Plan

 

Last week the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council ran a poll on their website that asked—

“Do you support AGL’s proposal for a gas import jetty and pipeline in Westernport Bay?”

More than two thousand people responded, with an overwhelming 93.6% answering NO –  a clear sign of the community’s emphatic rejection of controversial plans by gas giant AGL to import and process LNG near Crib Point for the next twenty years.
Read about it in this week’s Mornington Peninsula News

The decisive result was no surprise. Ever since AGL named the coastal village of Crib Point as their ‘preferred location’ to process gas, members of Save Westernport have been expressing the extent of local opposition to the company’s CEO and Boardmembers.

AGL seriously misrepresented the suitability of the proposed site, telling the government they could “make use of existing infrastructure”, when the project would require the construction of a 60km pipeline.

It’s now widely recognised that Westernport’s internationally recognised wetlands and unique marine ecology are entirely incompatible with the heavy industry of its past. 

What’s more— Westernport’s mangroves and Coastal Saltmarsh ecosystems are directly threatened by our dependence on fossil gas.
AGL must not be permitted to profit from perpetuating the misguided practices of a bygone era.

Save Westernport believes the company’s shareholders expect a great deal more from AGL, and we plan to make this clear to the members of the Board at their AGM later this month.

Forcing a project that has been overwhelmingly rejected by this community and its Shire Council would imperil the company, exposing AGL to the enormous risk of further degrading its tenuous reputation.

Read the recent article in the Mornington Peninsula News

Here.

Remember :

Save Westernport is urgently raising funds to engage expert witnesses to represent Westernport and challenge AGL at the Environment Effects Statement Panel Hearings next month.

We will be taking on the vested interests and limitless resources of the AGL corporation. The cost of providing marine and other experts, and legal representation—even by the good people at Environmental Justice Australia—are enormous.

But this is our one chance to make it clear to the Planning Panel: we want to see Westernport protected and valued as the priceless treasure that it is.

Please make a donation and help us make sure AGL’s irresponsible plans in Westernport are NOT APPROVED ! However big or small, if we pool the resources of our wonderful community, we can do this.

Contact secretary@savewesternport.org

 

‘Emphatic no’ to gas plan

Save Westernport Submission against AGL’s Environment Effects Statement Lodged

Save Westernport Submission against AGL’s Environment Effects Statement Lodged

:

Save Westernport’s  Submission against AGL’s Environment Effects Statement has been lodged with EngageVic.

Our submission can now be viewed here

You can DONATE to support us at the EES Hearings against AGL 


Many Thanks to everyone who collaborated to produce this wonderful work, and to Chris and Jane from Save Westernport for bringing together the many contributions.

Thanks also to Victor and all Save Westernport’s campaign partners at Environment Victoria- EV, Westernport Peninsula Protection Council- WPPC, Phillip Island Conservation Council- PICS, and Victorian National Parks Association- VNPA, and to all our wonderful friends.

I am so encouraged by what we were able to achieve in just 40 days, under extremely difficult lockdown conditions. 

The next stage of the EES will be the Panel Hearings beginning on October 12.

Those of you who indicated in their submissions that they’d like to address the Panel directly will have the opportunity to do this via video link at the Hearings. 
Planning for the Panel Hearings will begin soon.

Remember, these Hearings will require us to go up against Energy giant AGL—to take on the limitless resources of a corporation with past convictions for ‘deceptive and misleading conduct’. 

But we have yet to reach our fundraising target.
Funds are urgently needed to secure the best legal support and expert witnesses to ensure 
the interests of our community are represented at the Hearings.
This will be essential to challenge AGL’s exploitative plans.

To contribute to this monumental effort, please consider…‘What Does Westernport Mean to Me..?.’

and PLEASE Donate Here.

By pooling our resources, however large or small, we can make sure those without a voice  are heard.

Donate Now to the No AGL Campaign

And let’s do this!!

Julia Stöckigt,

Secretary Save Westernport 

 

 

Still Time to Make a Submission

Still Time to Make a Submission

Making a Submission before September 1 is the best way to STOP AGL.
It’s our chance to have a say and stop the exploitation of our precious natural world.

You can write you own submission on the EngageVic website here 

OR

Write a ‘fast and furious’ submission  using Environment Victoria’s   Survey-to-Submission tool 

 

1.) To write your ‘fast and furious’ Environment Victoria submission follow the steps below:

Yesterday the Department of Environment Land Water and Planning (DELWP) decided that each submission must go through their site, so they have put another step in place:

1. Go to this link: https://environmentvictoria.org.au/build-submission

2.Fill out the survey and amend if necessary, then submit
Due to DELWP’s new requirement that all submissions must go through their EngageVic website, Environment Victoria will then email your submission back to you.

3. Once you have received your submission from EV go to the DEWLP site:
engage.vic.gov.au/crib-point-IAC  click on: Make your submission.

4. Answer their questions then copy and paste your submission into to the “Add your submission” box

Job done. (Thanks Rod Knowles)

2) If you can write your own, more detailed submission and/or would like to attend the Panel Hearings in person to have your voice heard, make sure you tick the box when submitting here:

3) Check out Environment Victoria’s tips on How to Make a Deadly Submission against AGL  here 

4) Last week Mornington Peninsula Shire Council voted unanimously to oppose AGL’s dangerous, unnecessary plans.
Council’s Submission against AGL is now online here.
You might find it helpful when writing your own submission.


They suggest writing about whatever point/s  you decide to make, whether that’s Marine Life, Safety, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Birds, etc using the words of the ‘Evaluation Objectives’.

The EVALUATION OBJECTIVES  are in the blue box at the start of each section of the Council’s submission..
Please feel free to copy and paste text from their online Submission, but to give it more value, they advise adding some of your own perspective and words.
MPSCouncil’s submission starts on page 4  here.

We’ve heard the number of Submissions AGAINST AGL that Minister Wynne and the Department of Environment Land Water and Planning (DELWP) have already received has Blown the previous record right out of the water !

Let’s keep going, and really send the message home—
There’ll be NO AGL IN WESTERNPORT !

Some EES report findings ~

Some EES report findings ~

Please note that in the above mock-up from AGL’s EES report, I found out that the United tanker shown on the left is 180.01 meters long, whereas AGL have told us that the FSRU is 290 metres long.  Is this an accurate depiction of what this picture would look like if the FSRU was moored there? Answers on a post card please…I’d laugh it wasn’t such a lie!! Candy

Admission of guilt by AGL in their EES

from Rod Knowles
(highlighting is his)

5.3 Questioning of AGL’s safety record

AGL EES Community Consultation Attachment V

 7.5.3 Questioning of AGL’s Safety Record

Concern about the proposed Project

safety processes, given previous AGL

incidents.

“Thanks for the effort… but I am not

reassured, given AGL’s safety history.”

(Hastings community session,

August 2019)

AGL understands the community concern about past behaviour. We need to do better. All the breaches and fines referenced are publicly available and as a major ASX listed company AGL’s conduct is rightly subject to high levels of regulator, shareholder, customer and media scrutiny.

 

The breaches and the resulting fines are evidence that AGL is closely monitored, and action is taken by both regulators and AGL to address past failures. AGL is made accountable for our actions and often take further action to ensure these types of issues don’t happen again.

In relation to the Project, AGL is not expecting the community to trust us and we recognise the community can’t simply take our word that safety and environmental risks will be well managed.

 

The purpose of the EES process is to independently assess if these risks can be addressed before the project is approved by the state government and many other regulators.

In addition to the EES, AGL will be subject to oversight by numerous regulators and government agencies, including:

  • Environment Protection Authority Victoria
  • Transport Safety Victoria
  • Marine Safety Victoria
  • Australian Maritime Safety Authority
  • Office of Transport Safety (Commonwealth)
  • Energy Safety Victoria
  • WorkSafe Victoria
  • Harbour Master
  • Victorian Regional Channels Authority
  • Port of Hastings Development Authority

The project also must adhere to several legislative requirements, including:

  • Environment Protection Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999(EPBC) 
  • Environment Effects Act 1978
  • Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988
  • Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994 (CaLP Act)
  • Victorian Advisory Lists
  • Planning and Environment Act 1987
  • Mornington Peninsula Planning Scheme
  • Guidelines for the removal, destruction or lopping of native vegetation (DELWP 2017a)

The local community also play an important role to ensure AGL is accountable to the highest safety standards.

~ Rod Knowles

——————————————————————–

AGL’s schematic drawings of the proposed LNG Receiving Facility at Woolleys Beach Crib Point

 In their EES reports, AGL suggests relocating our picnic area at Woolleys Beach to accomodate their gas factory, but acknowledge that no suitable alternative location exists fail to present any alternative location.

This news, and these pictures appeared for the first time in their EES document, and were not disclosed in over two years of ‘community consultation sessions’.
Plans outlining the extent of the proposed changes at Woolley’s Beach reveal the great loss to locals and visitors if AGL is permitted to permanently close public access to Woolleys beach and the foreshore reserve.

The ‘mock-ups’ used by AGL in their EES are not accurate or to scale. AGL’s reports refer to a place called ‘Woolleys Beach North’, that is not known by that name locally. No information is given about the whereabouts of such a place.

Map references and boundaries shown in the Visual Amenity Report vary from those in the Pipeline Application and other reports. No attempt appears to have been made to reconcile that information between the various documents, which makes assessing the changes difficult, if not impossible.

If AGL proceeds with this ill advised project, Woolleys Beach picnic zone, that is perhaps the only shaded, beachfront BBQ area with shell chair access between Flinders and Tooradin would be permanently lost to the public.

It seems inconceivable that a private corporation could co-opt a public amenity, making it unusable due to the continual noise and industrial lighting light from the engines of their their gas import jetty

If you were a dolphin would you be ok with that? As a local, are you ok with your beach amenity turning into AGL’s gas import jetty?

Please make a submission before 1st Sept 11:59pm. Even just your heart-felt opposition to this monstrous proposal will make a difference.
If you want help go to: https://environmentvictoria.org.au/how-to-write-a-submission-opposing-agls-gas-import-terminal/

and checkout the tips here

AGL’s photos and of the proposed FSRU are particularly misleading. If you know a draughtsperson who could prepare an accurately scaled diagram for us, based on the actual measurements of the FSRU and the Crib Point Jetty, we’d be extremely grateful.
We need it to be based on the actual measurements so that it could be used as part of our submission to the Minister.

There’s no question that an accurate depiction would demonstrate-
1. How oppressive the proposed plant and vessel would be in that quiet coastal location.

2. How deceptive AGL’s own representations have been throughout all their “consultation sessions”, and continue to be even now, in the EES.

AGL has continually underestimated and downplayed the size, noise, danger, and threat of every single one of the many impacts of their operations on our community, on the area’s environment, its amenity, safety and economy.

Now AGL’s plans to apply to have Woolleys Beach Foreshore Reserve REZONED FOR PORT RELATED USE have only now been discovered because community members have been spending countless hours—days even—to read the detail contained in the EES reports .

It makes a joke of AGL and the claims made at local public meetings “as a company we haven’t always got it right but for this project we are trying to be as open and transparent with the community around the issues and to engage with you because we are not standing here asking you to trust us we are standing here to ask you to hold us accountable”

Candy vR 

Mark Seymour shows his support for Westernport

Mark Seymour shows his support for Westernport

AGL’s claim that Australia is running out of gas is a lie.

Australia has plenty. It’s extraction has been poorly managed and sold cheaply overseas with little direct benefit to the Australian Tax payer.

Right now the Morrison government is planning a complete structural overhaul of local gas extraction in this country and love it or hate it, if it’s plans go ahead the AGL plant will be rendered superfluous because it depends on imported gas.

There is no valid industrial or economic argument to justify building this monstrous plant in Westernport.

Make no mistake, AGL is running out of time.

If you’re a voter and a tax payer and you live on the Mornington Peninsula..

Now is the time to get angry and loud.

The proposed AGL gas plant will be an environmental disgrace and a permanent stain on the reputation of any government that allows it to go ahead..

The AGL gas plant can be stopped

GO HARD NOW!

M Seymour

The AGL Threat —Fast Facts

The AGL Threat —Fast Facts

AGL Gas Fact Sheet

What is the FSRU?

AGL’s proposal is to operate a Floating Storage and Regasification Unit (FSRU) – a giant gas tanker permanently moored at the end of a jetty, which would receive liquefied natural gas (LNG) shipments from interstate or overseas, store it, and then convert it into gas for distribution via a new pipeline that runs through high value agricultural land.

 

How polluting is the project?

AGL’s dirty gas plan will increase Victoria’s climate pollution. It will:

  • Pump 130-160 petajoules of gas per year into Victoria, almost doubling the amount of gas flowing into the state, likely reversing the shift of industry and households away from gas and weakening the move to renewable energy;
  • Involve importing gas produced by fracking, which has much higher local environmental impacts in the places where the fracking occurs; and
  • Increase the carbon pollution of gas consumption, because the gas being brought into Victoria will have been liquefied, transported long distances, re-gasified and then stored, with each step consuming energy and adding to fugitive emissions. Meaning this gas is 20 percent more polluting than gas sourced from Victoria.

What about gas prices?

The project will likely lead to higher, not lower gas prices for Victorians. This view is supported by Macquarie Bank’s thorough analysis of the price impacts of gas import terminals.. In short Macquarie Bank concludes: “We believe that any import terminal will not lower prices on the East Coast of Australia, and could potentially set a higher floor price.”1

What About a Gas Shortage ?

There is not a gas shortage in Australia, there is a problem with the gas market. The East coast of Australia currently consumes 700 petajoules of gas a year while the 1500 petajoules is exported overseas from a massive terminal in Gladstone, Queensland. There are far better policy solutions to this issue such as controls on exports or a reservation policy. Moreover gas is still a polluting and dangerous fuel that Australia needs to transition away from. There is already a transition underway in Victoria, our gas use has declined by 20% in the last 7 years. Governments should invest in supporting households and businesses to continue to switch away from gas and towards electricity powered by clean, renewable energy and storage.

What about threatened species in Westernport

Westernport Bay is an internationally listed ecosystem, recognised under the Ramsar Convention as a unique tidal bay and wetland with important ecological values.

 It is home to a number of threatened species listed under the ​Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act​ (Vic) 1988 and the ​Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act​ (Cth) 1999 such as Southern Right Whale; Humpback Whale; Far Eastern Curlew; Curlew Sandpiper; Fairy Tern; Orange-bellied Parrot; Swift Parrot; Great White Shark; Mangrove Goby; Australian Grayling; Two species Ghost Shrimp, southern brown bandicoot and coastal saltmarsh.

We have deep concerns over the threats to the habitat and welfare of these species caused by the construction and operation of the FSRU and pipeline.

What about marine impacts?

There are concerning marine impact associated with this project. These include:

  • The discharge of up to 450,000,000 litres per day of cold sea water into Westernport Bay;
  • The discharge of up to 450,000,000 litres per day of chlorinated water into Westernport Bay;
  • The risk to the ecosystem and small marine life from becoming sucked into the heat exchanger;
  • The possibility of the introduction of marine pests;
  • The impact on two species of Ghost Shrimp, both of which are considered likely to be present in low numbers in suitable habitat, about which there is extremely limited knowledge;
  • The significant increase in shipping through Western Port Bay, increasing the incidences of vessel strikes with marine mammals and marine noise.
  • The potential for fuel spills and the impact this may have on marine life. VNPA has undertaken extensive​ ​shipping oil spill modelling​ which shows the complexities and trends in movement in the Bay in addition to the impacts on​ ​birds​,​ ​mangroves, and seagrass.

What does the local community think?

There is strong local community opposition to the project. A local campaign to defend the bay from AGL’s project is entering its third year. Save Westernport (https://www.savewesternport.org/​ and the community in Westernport Bay are determined to protect the Bay’s spectacular natural values and threatened species. They have been fighting fossil fuel and port development projects in the area for many years. There are a number of different groups involved including; Westernport & Peninsula Protection Council, Blue Wedges, ​Phillip Island Conservation Society and Preserve Western Port Action Group as well as farmers along the route of the pipeline.

Tourism job numbers:

Mornington Peninsula Jobs: 9000 

GRP: $849 million Phillip Island

Jobs: 4,400

GRP: $407 m – this is 40% of local economy. Highest of any other region in Vic. These two regions together are Victoria’s biggest tourism employers.

What’s the timeframe?

AGL has presented their Environment Effects Statement to Minister Wynne. You can read it here.

Public Comments are open until August 26 2020, then there will be a public Hearing. The Minister will make a decision soon. 

 

Now is our chance to comment on the project by making a submission. AGL is Australia’s biggest climate polluter.

They are the largest polluter by more than twice the second largest who is another energy company called EnergyAustralia.

We cannot let this project go ahead! 

 

 

What can I do?

– > Make A Submission !You can make a submission about the AGL Crib Point proposal using the online form on the EngageVic website here.

– > Are you a shareholder? Come to their AGM

– > Sign up to attend the rally at their AGM

– > Donate!

 More Concerns about AGL gas terminal & APA pipeline:

If approved , the AGL proposal would have a multitude of risks and potentially disastrous impacts that should prove it to be entirely unjustifiable.

These include:

  • The construction of the 60 km pipeline to Pakenham, with its 30m wide easement that would rip through wilderness areas including Warrangine Park within the protected Ramsar wetlands, and up to 100 private properties in Melbourne’s productive food growing areas.
  • The constant risk of leak, explosion, spill, or accident from human error or equipment failure.
  • Threat of bushfire providing a potential ignition source.
  • Disturbance to nocturnal wildlife from permanent Industrial lighting at the facility.
  • Noise from the FSRU which AGL’s own reports say would be in excess of safe levels determined by the EPA.
  • Dust, vibration, and particularly air emissions from the FSRU, which AGL’s reports also say would be in excess of EPA safe levels.
  • Decrease to local property values, or difficulty insuring properties near the facility.
  • Damage to the growing economy and reputation of the Peninsula as “clean, green” food producing area and destination, compromise local wineries and businesses like the Flinders Aquaculture Reserve.
  • The disturbance and release into the water column of contaminated soils from previous industry at the jetty site, including dangerous PFAS chemicals and Potential Acid sulphite soils, described in AGL reports.
  • Danger of moorings breaking in heavy weather, causing collision with United Petrol tanker the Marie Boyle, which regularly docks at Crib Point jetty, or with LNG tankers supplying the FSRU. Westernport has notoriously shallow waters and fast moving tides.
  • Cold water, chlorination and wash from increased wash of shipping could slow or stop the recent regeneration of seagrasses and mangrove beds, without which, sediments would increasingly scour the bay, further undermining and destabilising mangrove beds. 
  • The benefit of Mangroves as an essential Carbon sink can be evaluated in direct monetary  terms, known as BLUE CARBON. As a carbon sink, Mangroves are unsurpassed and are even more effective at safely storing carbon than even rainforests. We should be doing EVERYTHING we can to protect and encourage mangroves in Westernport Bay. Nowhere on Earth are they able to grow this far south. They are a tropical species that can only grow in Westernport due to its shallow waters and warmer temperatures .
  • Mangroves are an essential species in the bay, providing roosting and foraging opportunities for several species of endangered migratory birds that should be protected by the bay’sasdf Ramsar status. Mangroves prevent erosion and coastal inundation, and are our best defence against rising sea levels and resulting coastal inundation and erosion. They also filter toxic run-off from agricultural chemicals and improve water quality and clarity.
  • Dumping of 450 million litres of chilled, chlorinated wastewater 7 degrees colder into Westernport Bay every day the Floating Storage Regasification Unit processes gas
  • Perpetuating gas use and discouraging urgently needed investment and uptake of renewable energy alternatives
  • Increased fugitive methane and other polluting air emissions, carbondioxide and particulate pollution
  • Disruption of Boon Wurrung cultural heritage sites, registered and unlisted, Indigenous artifacts and shell middens
  • New gas pipeline and 30m wide easement disrupting the region’s market gardens that contribute to Melbourne’s food bowl and enable lower ‘food miles’ for the city
  • Disruption to access of private properties along the proposed route and negatively impacting property prices
  • Industrial light spill, noise and vibration, above the water and below. Noise of visiting tankers and tugs combined with constant operation of FSRU would exceed EPA safe levels
  • Transport, storage, use, handling, disposal of gas, dangerous goods and toxic, flammable odorising gas additive called Mercaptan near a residential community and bushfire zone
  • Negative Economic, Social, Psychological and Health Impacts to community, and to the region’s reputation
  • Hazard to Life from flammable LNG, and associated risk of BLEVE- Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapour Explosion
  • Change in Visual Appearance and inevitable loss of Amenity due to large imposing new industrial facilities, visible from Phillip Island and all across Westernport Bay
  •  Estimated 40% rise in commercial shipping traffic, with unknown impacts of associated noise on all marine life.
  • Increased collision risk with migratory humpback & resident populations of marine mammals incl. burrunan Dolphin pods
  • Turbidity and silt from shipping wake, causing dieback & loss of seagrass, a species critical to healthy marine ecosystems  
  • Introduction of invasive marine pests from international LNG carriers, threat to marine life & Flinders Aquaculture Reserve
  • Increased industrial development restricting economic and tourism opportunities in Westernport & Mornington Peninsula
  • Dredging (called ‘levelling’) disrupting water movements & seabed, potential for sediment plume & coastal inundation
  • Disposal of contaminated PFAS, toxic heavy metal and acid sulfate soils from previous industry in Dredge Spoil materials 
  • Protected species of Westernport’s marine life, flora and fauna: Ghost Shrimp, Humpback Whales, Silverheaded Flying Fox, Little Penguins, Brown face Bandicoot, Migratory birds: Fairy Tern, Far Eastern Curlew, and rare Spider Orchid
  • Cumulative Impacts over time include loss of stabilising terrestrial ecology, risk of erosion, coastal inundation, loss of onshore fauna and flora habitats, critically endangered Coastal Saltmarsh communities, ecosystems & vegetation.
  • Loss of Silver Mangroves due to cold water in FSRU heat exchange, a tropical species with limitless potential for carbon biosequestration, stores more carbon than rainforest
  • FSRU would be constant an Ignition source of Bushfire in a known hazardous zone, with nearby Primary School, residential communities and Cerberus Naval Base

 

STOP AGL —

NO GAS FACTORY IN WESTERNPORT BAY!

 

 

  • 1 Macquarie Wealth Management, East Coast Gas and Infrastructure 6 July 2018

 

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 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

AGL’s EES due for release.

AGL’s EES due for release.

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 secretary@savewesternport.org 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
http://epbcnotices.environment.gov.au/_entity/annotation/38a0c105-4ecc-e811-a2e6-005056ba00a8/a71d58ad-4cba-48b6-
8dab-f3091fc31cd5?t=1582460658615

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/