The Inquiry and Advisory Committee Hearings updates

The Inquiry and Advisory Committee Hearings updates

EES Hearing into AGL’s Gas Import proposal in Westernport Bay.

The Hearings on the AGL EES are now in their second month. The proponent AGL has given their evidence, and on Monday Nov 9 we began hearing from parties that oppose AGL’s plans in Westernport.

To watch the Hearings live — Zoom details for the hearings:
Meeting ID: 810 4993 0543
Passcode: 771844 

link >

OR click on ‘Crib Point IAC’ then register here https://engage.vic.gov.au/crib-point-IAC

Recordings of each day’s proceedings can be viewed here 

To see when a particular subject will be heard, eg Marine Impacts, Safety etc visit the updated timetable here.

https://s3.ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com/hdp.au.prod.app.vic-engage.files/1216/0514/8107/420.__IAC_-_Timetable_V6_-_12_11_20_.pdf

Email the IAC Panel via Georgia Thomas at  cribpoint.IAC@delwp.vic.gov.au

 

October 12th, Summary of Day One of Hearing

Dr Chris Atmore for Save Westernport

This was the first day of the EES Hearing.
We heard that the Inquiry and Advisory Committee (the IAC) will visit Crib Point and sites along the proposed route of the pipeline, but these visits may not be accompanied due to COVID restrictions. The community had requested a guide to point out important areas that would be impacted.

Disappointingly, Phillip Island and areas south of Crib Point, including Cerberus, and from Somers and Balnarring to Flinders are not on the list of places the Panel will visit as we requested.

We think a visit to these places is important for the Panel members to get a better understanding of the character and economy of the Bay, and we’ll try to pursue this with the Panel.

Chair Kathy Mitchell said that it was inappropriate for Save Westernport to present its submissions unrepresented because it is also one of three clients represented by Environmental Justice Australia and a team of barristers. We disagree and hope to respond to this tomorrow morning.

Groups other than the main parties are likely to be allocated 10 minutes each and individual submitters who asked to speak when they made their written submissions will be allowed just 5 minutes each to speak. That part of the timetable is still being finalised.

AGL and APA (‘the proponent’) spent the rest of the day presenting their Opening Submission – essentially a general overview of what they plan to argue, including videos promoting the FSRU, Crib Point Receiving Facility and Pipeline works.

The proponent says that what is in the scope of the IAC to consider should be narrower than we say eg arguments about climate change should not be relevant. They will also argue that the Port of Hastings is already industrialised and that it’s just a question of balancing industry against the environmental considerations and that they can do this. They claim that their EES goes above and beyond EESs for other projects eg they assume worst case scenarios when assessing risk and impacts.

AGL and APA have made some changes to various key documents. We can expect to see more of this as the Hearing progresses.
On  Day 2 the IAC heard from most of the other main parties, including the Environment Protection Authority, Mornington Peninsula, Bass and Cardinia Shire Councils, and Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation.
Our barristers presented the Opening Submission on behalf of Environment Victoria, Save Westernport and Victorian National Parks Association.

We wish our legal team all the best as they present the Opening Submission representing the community’s views on why this proposal must not go ahead.

To watch the Hearings live each day, go to https://engage.vic.gov.au/crib-point-IAC
At the top it says ‘How to access the Hearing’
Click on
‘Crib Point IAC – Hearing Link’
Type in your email address, and then click on the Zoom link to watch the Hearing from 10 am each day, (except Fridays)

If you require technical assistance, ring 03 9078 9726

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Below is essential info on the hearings, appearance dates, access links and contact details for spokespeople.
More summaries below.

THE PROJECT

AGL is proposing to build a 290-metre floating gas import terminal at Crib Point in Westernport Bay, south-east of Melbourne. Westernport Bay is recognised as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.

It is home to vulnerable, endangered and critically endangered whales, turtles, fish and waterbirds. The terminal, known as a Floating Storage and Regasification Unit (FSRU), would receive liquefied natural gas (LNG) via shipments from interstate or overseas, then convert this LNG back into gas for distribution via a new pipeline (to be built by APA) running 60 kilometres from Crib Point to Pakenham. AGL’s description of the project is at www.gasimportprojectvictoria.com.au

THE HEARINGS

Two energy companies, AGL and APA, have proposed the project. In October 2018, the Victorian Minister for Planning required the companies to submit an environment effects statement (EES).

AGL took two years to create the 11,000 page EES, and the community was given 40 days to respond during a public exhibition phase from 2 July to 26 August. This coincided with stage four lockdown restrictions.

A joint Inquiry and Advisory Committee (IAC) was appointed to consider the EES and submissions and give advice to ministers and government agencies on the project. All documents relating to the hearings, including public submissions, are at: https://engage.vic.gov.au/crib-point-IAC The hearings will be held online from Monday 12 October to 17 December.

The updated timetable is available here

Zoom details for the hearings:
Meeting ID: 810 4993 0543
Passcode: 771844 

link >


THE SUBMISSIONS

The exhibition stage of the environmental assessment for the AGL proposal generated more submissions from the public than any other EES ever held in Victoria.

More than 6059 individual submissions are publicly available on the IAC website, and more than 9,000 additional submissions were lodged with Environment Victoria and are attached to that organisation’s EES submission.

The previous record for most submissions to a Victorian EES was the Mornington Safe Harbour project with 2018 submissions.

 

WHAT ARE THE CONCERNS?

Submissions opposing the AGL project include federal MP Greg Hunt, several shire councils (Bass Coast, Casey, Mornington Peninsula and Cardinia), Bunurong Elders, recreational fishing peak bodies, landcare groups, tourism operators, local business owners, conservation and climate groups including Sea Shepherd, the Westernport Biosphere and Australian Doctors for the Environment.

All submissions can be searched at https://engage.vic.gov.au/crib-point-IAC/submissions

Links to submissions from conservation and community groups: Environment Victoria Victorian National Parks Association

Save Westernport (submission 3129)

Westernport & Peninsula Protection Council (submission 3149)
Friends of French Island (submission 1140)

For a summary of concerns related to tourism, fishing and local businesses, contact Environment Victoria Media and Content Manager Greg Foyster on 0410879031 or g.foyster@environmentvictoria.org.au

 

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE HEARINGS?

After 30 days the Inquiry Advisory Committee, or IAC will send a report to the Victorian Planning Minister Richard Wynne.

The Minister will respond with his decision within 30 days. The committee’s report is not public until after the Minister has decided, and the Minister has discretion to ignore the committee’s recommendations.
In the recent North-East Link EES, the Minister dismissed the panel’s key recommendations, and approved the project. 

MEDIA CONTACTS

Greg Foyster, Environment Victoria: 0410879031, g.foyster@environmentvictoria.org.au

Julia Stockigt, Save Westernport: 0425 306 830,  (03) 5983 0094
juliastockigt@gmail.com 

Candy van Rood, Save Westernport: 0412494985, candy@candyspender.com.au

Shannon Hurley, Victorian National Parks Association: 0433 481 346, shannon@vnpa.org.au

Jeff Nottle, Phillip Island Conservation Society Inc: 0419 158 232, nottle@bigpond.net.au

Karri Giles, Westernport & Peninsula Protection Council: 0425707448, carolinejean4@optusnet.com.au

Livia Cullen, Environmental Justice Australia: 0411108239, livia.cullen@envirojustice.org.au

Bron Gwyther, Friends of French Island: 0422032527, bron_gwyther@hotmail.com

In the coming weeks Save Westernport will be presenting our case against AGL’s unnecessary, irresponsible plan to import and process LNG in Westernport Bay

Key Hearing Dates

Date                Group or expert appearing

12 Oct             Opening submission from AGL and APA,

13 Oct             Opening submissions from Minister for Planning, Minister for Environment, EPA, Shire councils, Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation, Environment Victoria, Save Westernport and Victorian National Parks Association, instructed by Environmental Justice Australia

14 Oct – 6 Nov   Expert witness statements from AGL and APA covering economics, environment impacts, pipeline etc

9 Nov – 16 Nov   Mornington Shire and Bass Coast Shire with expert witnesses on greenhouse gas   emissions, groundwater, marine ecology, water birds, traffic etc

17 Nov            Cardinia Council expert witness on groundwater

18 Nov           City of Casey, EPA Victoria,
1.45 pm        Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation

19 Nov           Westernport and Peninsula Protection Council with expert witness Mary Cole on Cinnamon Fungus (Phytophthera) and Chytrid Fungus (Amphiboulus), G & K O’Connor Pty Ltd with expert witness Peter Ramsey in Engineering

23 Nov           Joint Environmental Groups: Save Westernport Inc, (SWP), Environment Victoria (EV),  and Victorian National Parks Association, (VNPA) will begin with expert witness Bruce Robertson on energy finance and Perran Cook of Monash University on environmental chemistry

24 Nov            Joint Env Groups continue with expert witness Matt Edmunds on marine ecology and ecological assessments

25 Nov            As above with expert witness John Wardrop on environmental science (oil spills) and Tom Baldock of the University of Queensland on hydrodynamics

26 Nov            As above with expert witness Bonnie Rosen on social impacts and Vanessa Wong of Monash University on soil science, Potential Acid Sulfate Soils (PASS)

30 Nov           Environment Victoria, Save Westernport Inc and Victorian National Parks Association continued

1 Dec – 2 Dec   Chris Atmore will present Save Westernport’s evidence on particular community impacts and local opposition to every aspect of the plan, followed by other community groups. 

3 Dec               Expert witnesses on animal wildlife rescue, green retrofits and climate/energy French Island Community Association

7 Dec           Groups including Sea Shepherd, Doctors for the Environment, Westernport Biosphere, MornPen Climate Action Network, Blue Wedges, Surfriders Foundation, Southern Peninsula Indigenous Flora and Fauna Association (SPIFFA) will each present to the IAC Panel.

8 – 15 Dec  Approximately 340 individual submitters will present, for 5 to 10 minutes each

15 Dec            Discussion on Mitigation Measures/Environment Performance Requirements

16 Dec            Closing submissions from Minister for Planning, Minister for Environment, EPA, Councils, Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation and Environment Victoria, Save Westernport and Victorian National Parks Association, instructed by Environmental Justice Australia

17 Dec          Closing Submissions from AGL and APA. Hearing Ends.

 

Recordings of the Hearing with witnesses evidence and cross examination are available here: https://engage.vic.gov.au/crib-point-IAC/hearing-recordings

 

Witnesses evidence and their presentations can be viewed in Tabled Documents here             https://s3.ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com/hdp.au.prod.app.vic-engage.files/2816/0395/4248/Crib_Point_IAC_-_Document_List_v19_-_29_10_20.pdf

 

PRESENTATIONS ON SUBMISSIONS

Members of the Public who made EES Submissions and stated they wish to address the IAC Panel at the Hearing will have the chance to speak for 5-10 minutes between Dec 8th – 14th  

The timetable shows when individuals have been scheduled to address the Panel.

If you made a written submission on the EES and opted to address the Hearing you should have received an email with that timetable attached. If you did not receive the email contact the IAC to ensure you get listed. They can be contacted here  cribpoint.IAC@delwp.vic.gov.au

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Day 19  Monday November 16 2020, Summary

Today we heard from terrestrial ecology experts on behalf of the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council (see Attachment IX of the EES and Doc 390 below).

Recording https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1G1pe_zg8s&feature=youtu.be

Dr Graeme Lorimer gave evidence about the impact of the project on Merran’s Sun Orchid (MSO), a protected and increasingly rare species of Orchid endemic to SE Australia. He pointed out that horizontal directional drilling (HDD) is the best approach for pipeline construction, because trenching, or the digging of a continuous trench for the pipeline has proven disastrous for the environment.
Dr Lorimer therefore believes that ideally there should be no trenching in sensitive areas. However, HDDrilling also has its own significant risks, and he described how the annual cycle of the MSOrchid means it is vulnerable in its emerging stages.

Dr Lorimer disagreed to some extent with APA’s expert Mr Lane, and said that any drilling for the pipeline should be confined to January-March when the species would not be so vulnerable . Dr Lorimer also took issue with Mr Lane’s claim that the route for the pipeline will potentially affect only a small number of MSOs. Dr Lorimer believes that the small numbers identified by APA are because they surveyed areas where other existing pipelines have been installed resulting in degraded vegetation and soil, where fewer MSOs have been able to regenerate.

Dr Lorimer also expressed concerns about the possibilities of a ‘frac-out’ during HDD, an unintended consequence of this drilling technique. Like so many potential impacts of the project frac-outs were not mentioned or assessed in AGL’s EES reports.

During a frac-out, the drilling fluid is accidentally released and is forced to the surface, This occurred during HDDrilling in Kilsyth North near rare orchid habitat. The chemical-mud solution is sprayed out under pressure, either solidifying on the ground before shrinking as it dries, or forming a mound. Regeneration of the soil and localised vegetation can take years. He said a contingency MUST be in place to monitor any frac-outs near MSO habitat so drilling can be stopped immediately.
In the event of a frac-out, Dr Lorimer warned against driving a vac-truck into the area as that would also destroy the flora, and suggested
 manual removal of the spill. The mud solution is usually chemically based, but it can be substituted with the less commonly used biodegradable form made of Xanthem gum, which was also recommended.

Dr Lorimer believes that the EES and current mitigation proposals are not sufficiently detailed, and the containment and collection techniques to respond to a frac-out are generally either inappropriate or not useful. He observed that he’s accustomed to EESs where the details of the construction method are ‘pretty clear’, suggesting the inadequacy of the plans in place in this EES. While improvements can be made, he still has doubts, given the lack of available detail. For more see Docs 115, 247 & 422 below.

Doc 115 Dr Lorimer’s witness statement

https://s3.ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com/hdp.au.prod.app.vic-engage.files/8316/0211/2527/Grame_Lorimer_-_redacted.pdf

#247 APA reply about Frack-outs etc
https://s3.ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com/hdp.au.prod.app.vic-engage.files/1016/0308/1710/247._TN_027_-_Response_to_evidence_of_G_Lorimer.pdf

 

#422. Presentation on impacts to Orchid https://s3.ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com/hdp.au.prod.app.vic-engage.files/9516/0523/6075/422.__Expert_Witness_Presentation_Dr_Lorimer_-_MPSC.pdf

 

Southern Brown Bandicoot (SBB)

In the afternoon of the same day, Jake Urlus provided his opinion on the impacts of the project on terrestrial ecology. He was critical of the way APA carried out their surveys, and said the largest and best connected SBBandicoot habitat under threat from the proposal has not been included in their assessment. In particular he believes that the results cannot be accepted as representing the Mornington Peninsula region.

Mr Urlus said it is important to consider how widely the SBB used to be distributed on the Peninsula, and there is still some evidence including a population on Quail Island. He thinks that the Peninsula could be recolonised if conditions are right, citing the success of the reintroduction program at the Cranbourne Botanic Gardens, resulting from the simple exclusion of introduced predator species foxes and cats.

SBBs prefer vegetation that is densely structured and up to 1m high, so Mr Urlus’ view is that habitat along the pipeline alignment and access track won’t be conducive. There will also be less refuge for the SBB and potentially increased predation from introduced species like foxes. He therefore disagrees with the EES and Mr Lane’s assessment of the project’s impact as negligible.

Mr Urlus was critical of methods used by APA to identify possible impacts on the protected species the Swamp Skink and Southern Toadlet, and is particularly concerned about the impact of pipeline trenching on both species. He noted that the Southern Toadlet is also particularly vulnerable to disturbances such as those from frac-outs, and that governments have recently recommended changing its status from Vulnerable to Endangered. For more see Docs 276, 330 & 423.

#276 Jake Urlus witness statement
https://s3.ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com/hdp.au.prod.app.vic-engage.files/2216/0315/4648/276._MPSC_BCSC_-_Evidence_Statement_of_Jake_Urlus_Terrestrial_Ecology.pdf

330 AGL witness Mr Lane replies
https://s3.ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com/hdp.au.prod.app.vic-engage.files/9716/0377/2595/330._Proponent_-_Evidence_in_Reply_of_Brett_Lane_to_Jake_Urlus.pdf

423 Mr Urlus Presentation
https://s3.ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com/hdp.au.prod.app.vic-engage.files/6016/0524/8902/423._Expert_evidence_presentation_of_J_Urlus_-_MPSC.pdf

Day 20 in the morning Nov 17 the MPS Council will make its overall arguments about the Project as a whole. In the afternoon Cardinia Shire Council will do the same.

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Day 18 Thursday 12 November 2020, Witnesses on Traffic and Noise  

The Hearing continued with evidence from Mornington Peninsula Shire Council and Bass Shire Council, starting with traffic and transport impacts. Witness Hilary Marshall stated that the Transport Impact Assessment in the EES does not include enough accurate data to provide a realistic or robust assessment of existing conditions. 

Ms Marshall also had concerns about the adequacy of the analysis and findings. For example, she pointed out that in constructing the pipeline the daily traffic generation is not properly accounted for because the 400 workers will be arriving and departing at peak times. This has important safety implications for peak hour intersection capacity, including at Frankston-Flinders Road / Marine Parade and Woolleys Road / Stony Point Road.

In addition, the traffic from nitrogen trucks will be equivalent to 1800 B-Double truck movements per year. Ms Marshall noted that although AGL says there will be a maximum of 5 trucks per day, they have also said that deliveries won’t be spread evenly, which means on some consecutive days the numbers will be higher. AGL has suggested that nitrogen trucks use Coolart Road to avoid Hastings. Ms Marshall noted that Coolart Rd also has a relatively significant accident history, including two blackspot locations where 5 or more accidents have occurred in the past 5 years and one fatality. 

The EES identifies the risk of ‘crash with a train at level crossing due to increased traffic activity and new access tracks’ as High. The EES also notes the impacts on bus routes 782 and 783 during construction – potential delays, route detours and temporary closures of bus stops. Ms Marshall concluded that the level of service to residents in Hastings is likely to be significantly impacted during that time. Impacts on school bus routes have not been assessed.

Ms Marshall believes that there is a reasonable risk that despite claims in the EES, not all the sealed roads identified will have the pipeline installed via the trenchless technique, which will result in unforeseen road closures and disruption. 

For more see Docs 120 For MPSC’s witness statement on Traffic  https://s3.ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com/hdp.au.prod.app.vic-engage.files/4616/0220/1155/120._Hilary_Marshall_Traffic__transport_Witness_Statement.pdf

Some of the evidence in Ms Marshall’s witness statement appeared in  her Presentation to the Panel   https://s3.ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com/hdp.au.prod.app.vic-engage.files/2216/0507/2161/413._MPSC_BCSC_-_Presentation_of_H_Marshall.pdf

 

In the afternoon Jim  Antonopoulos gave expert evidence about noise and vibration. We heard evidence that he was not permitted to independently assess the AGL/AECOM noise model, although he was able to discuss that model with its author on the telephone.

Mr. Antonopoulos stated that he created his own basic model of Crib Point jetty for the purpose of modelling noise levels at the site including a 55 metre high stack as an elevated noise source. This model used recommendations for windfarms in the UK to model noise sources at an elevated height because they (like the height of the FSRU) produces higher noise levels than noise sources at ground level. The approach in the EES did not take the height into account, nor the fact of the noise travelling over water which is regarded as a hard surface. The implications from this modelling are that Project noise levels could be higher than predicted and more noise control could be required than anticipated by AGL. 

Mr. Antonopoulos was concerned that AGL placed a high reliance on assumed noise attenuators on the FSRU and the LNG carriers. The carriers are the noisiest source according to the data, and he couldn’t see how this will be easily managed given that they will be operated by third parties. He stated that current United Petroleum unloading operations at Crib Point jetty probably already exceed existing noise limits, and that the cumulative impact of that noise and noise from the FSRU will have to be considered. More survey work on cumulative noise levels around Crib Point jetty would be beneficial in order to include United Petroleum operations. The actual noise levels from FSRU vessels and LNG carriers are not currently known but there will need to be more noise controls for both sources.

The EES has also identified significant exceedances of noise targets during Project construction, especially during evenings (scheduled works on Saturdays and Sundays). 

Most of Mr. Antonopoulos’ recommendations were about how noise could be controlled via improved Environment Performance Measures (see Doc 419). For example, he recommended an extended operational noise monitoring program for the first few years to monitor noise from LNG carriers, receiving facility, etc if the project was approved. Simply Informing local residents of high noise levels is not a long-term solution for non-compliance of EPA Victoria noise requirements. The proponent’s suggested noise treatment at nearby residential houses is not a formal compliance approach and treating offsite residential dwellings may only reduce noise levels when windows are closed.

On being questioned by Counsel Assisting the Panel, Jason Kane about noise impacts on beaches and recreational areas (such as Woolley’s Beach), Mr Antonopoulos said that there is probably a broader issue than just considering what level of noise is acceptable, because you could argue that if you can hear any industrial noise in that sort of environment it’s not favourable, although people may very in terms of whether they would still choose to use the area. He said he didn’t know that he could suggest a further EPR to address this aspect.

For more details, see Doc 415 Mr Antonopoulos’ Presentation 
https://s3.ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com/hdp.au.prod.app.vic-engage.files/6116/0507/2492/415._MPSC_BCSC_-_Presentation_of_J_Antonopoulos.pdf 

 

Doc 119, Mr A’s witness statement on Noise https://s3.ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com/hdp.au.prod.app.vic-engage.files/8416/0162/8116/119._J_Antonopoulos_Noise_and_vibration_Witness_Statement.pdf

The evidence presented on Day 18 Nov 12 can be heard here, with the recordings of each day’s proceedings https://engage.vic.gov.au/crib-point-IAC/hearing-recordings

That’s it for the week. Monday Nov 16 will be Day 19 and we will hear from the two Councils’ expert witnesses on the proposed Project’s impacts on terrestrial ecology, in particular on Merran’s Sun-orchid and the Southern Brown Bandicoot.

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Day 15 2pm Crib Point IAC hearings –  Monday 9 November

Greenhouse Gas Emissions, presentation by MPSC witness Ed Smith of Northmore Gordon

Mr Smith’s Presentation on GHG  https://s3.ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com/hdp.au.prod.app.vic-engage.files/1116/0463/4345/392._MPSC_BCSC_-_Presentation_of_Mr_Smith.pdf

 

“Project decarbonisation benefits may have been overstated…”

“AGL will be able to import LNG from anywhere around the world…”

“Different locations sources of gas have different GHG emission impacts…”

“In an ideal world, this project would meet world’s best practice for GHG emissions…”

“Latest tender from Singapore requires LNG suppliers to provide GHG data for each LNG cargo…”

“MPSC has a target of net zero emissions by 2040…”

“This project would have a significant impact on this 2040 target without offsets…”

“AGL closed loop scope 1 emissions for the FSRU at 160PJ per annum would be 238,070 CO2-e tonnes per year…”

“The (AGL) project should be following best practice…”

Mr. Chessell cross-examination for AGL 

thinkstep report and Qatargas 2018 Sustainability Report –  referred to by Mr. Smith

“Qatargas LNG has lower GHG emissions as per their 2018 report…”

“All upstream and transportation emissions should be included…”

“Mr. Sichlau considered high GHG emissions imported from Norway vs low GHG emissions from QLD…” 

“Scope 1 emissions and scope 2 are included in the GHG inventory…” – agreed by Mr. Smith

Narrabri environmental effects assessment – a project that accounted for scope 3 emissions

“Mr. Sichlau did not account for scope 3 emissions adequately…” Mr. Smith

FSRU regasification = main scope 1 emissions of the project

“Level of GHG emissions can vary depending on location source of LNG…”

“Some of the extraction GHG emissions may not have been taken into account by Mr. Sichlau…”

Qatargas = 8.3 grams of CO2-e/MJ for extraction and liquefaction processes

Mr. Smith wanted to show the wide range of GHG emissions depending on the source of LNG

QLD LNG is higher than Qatar LNG in CO2

“Best practice” – carbon-neutral LNG shipments – offsets are provided by the LNG supplier

“Small % of carbon neutral LNG shipments over past 12 months…” Mr. Smith

“Best practice” – Pavillion Energy (Singapore) – requires LNG suppliers to quantify GHG emissions with each LNG load

Singapore – LNG suppliers are asked to offer carbon offsets as part of LNG sales deals

These are voluntary actions by LNG suppliers

MPSC community reduction target of net zero emissions by 2040

MPSC – AGL project 160PJ imports of LNG for scope 1 and 2 emissions

Mr. Smith supports ‘open loop’ operation for the FSRU regarding GHG emissions

Mr. Smith has not reviewed entire MPSC Climate Emergency Plan – legal status not known

Mr. Smith said GHG emissions offsets should be considered regarding AGL project

“MPSC – actual need for AGL gas import project” 

MPSC says AGL gas import project is more suitable for Corio

GHG emissions would be the same at Port of Hastings or Corio

“Would AGL gas project undermine Vic Govt GHG emissions targets?” – Not his area of expertise 

“AGL FSRU – closed loop has lower GHG emissions than open loop”

Detailed Witness Statement 

https://s3.ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com/hdp.au.prod.app.vic-engage.files/1516/0162/1007/116._Ed_Smith_Greenhouse_Gas_Emissions_Witness_Statement.pdf

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More summaries of each day’s hearing to come 

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Day 4, Thursday 15th October AGL EES hearings by Chris Atmore

Thursday 15 October (Day Four)

The day began with the IAC announcing that they will make a further site visit next Monday, but that they hope when COVID restrictions permit, to make an accompanied visit at some point. It’s also been agreed that where expert witnesses have not been able to visit the site and therefore can’t answer some questions, they may be later recalled to add to their answers.

Port of Hastings Development Authority (PoHDA) then presented its arguments (no witnesses so they couldn’t be cross-examined). It’s fair to say that PoHDA echo the proponents in their enthusiasm for the project (see Docs 2700 and 231), including insisting that the Port is naturally deepwater, already long-term industrial, and in their words ‘open for business’. They stated that the role of PoHDA is ‘to protect, conserve and facilitate port operations’,and there is ‘no limit to port capacity’

In their view, a suite of significant policies and planning controls already exist to support the project, and PoHDA is capable of  ‘balancing the needs of the Port against those of the environment.’ 

PoHDA presented a slide show about the port, which IAC Chairwoman Kathy Mitchell pointed out needed to be clearer and annotated, particularly relating to the Crib Point Jetty. The evidence revealed that the Port jetties rarely have ships the size of the FSRU. however, the necessary approvals have already been obtained to remediate the CP Jetty and accommodate the proposed FSRU and associated facilities.

PoHDA identifies Crib Point as ‘strategically important’ for importing bulk liquids and gases, claiming this to be consistent with current and future Government approved plans for the Port and Crib Point.

The IAC, and submitters through Counsel Assisting Jason Kane, asked a number of questions on notice (meaning answers will be provided later).

The afternoon was taken up with the evidence and examination of the proponent’s expert planning witness, Andrew Biasci (Docs 68 and 176), who is involved in the drafting of the Incorporated Document that is the basis for the proposed planning scheme changes.

Mr Biasci’s focus was on land use impacts, and his evidence dovetailed with the PoHDA’s in terms of the claimed suitability of the Port for the project. He did however introduce a new phrase, ‘sunken investment’ – meaning ‘we’ve spent all this money on infrastructure so industry shouldn’t be stopped unless you’ve got a really good reason’.

Mr Biasci also echoed proponent and PoHDA assertions that the project has State significance and so it should be encouraged and signed off on by the Planning Minister rather than the MP Shire Council. He was confident that there are enough existing checks and balances that there is no need for a detailed economic or tourism report. Visual impacts are also to be expected in a working Port and in his view the EES is addressing these appropriately.

In cross-examination, Counsel Assisting asked whether visual and landscape impacts should be considered as part of managing the construction stage. Mr Biasci did not think so. Mr Kane also drew out a number of possible gaps and uncertainties in the Incorporated Document (ID), including whether MP Council is expected to play at least some role in enforcing the planning amendments. Referring to a clause in the ID which refers to Council, the community and other stakeholders, Mr Kane asked who ‘the community’ is and the response was that this is to be determined (making us wonder what the claimed stakeholder consultation by AGL was for).

Mr Kane noted that another clause in the ID refers to various plans associated with the Project, including the Operation Environmental Management Plan, only being made available on the proponent’s website until the project starts operating. The response seemed to suggest that this clause was just lifted from another project without any specific consideration of the ramifications.  

Rupert Watters then took over for the MP and Bass Coast Shire Councils. He raised questions about whether the various policies such as Plan Melbourne actually supported the project in the way that Mr Biasci suggested, because those policies aim to actively improve the environment or prioritise environmental protection over development, and that’s not what the project would do.

Mr Watters also presented a map from the Melbourne Industrial and Commercial Land Use Plan that shows that in fact Crib Point is only of regional significance (the State significance area does not start until north of Long Island Jetty in Hastings, several km to the north).

Finally Robert Forrester, for our combined environment group, extracted an agreement from Mr Biasci that there is nothing in the EES that claims if the Project is denied approval that it will be detrimental to the Port of Hastings. Mr Forrester also hammered home the lack of State significance argument for Crib Point, and left us with the implications that the witness’s conclusions overly rely on Port strategy, which has weaker persuasive authority than legislation.

 

___________________________________________________________

Day 3 of the IAC HEARING – BY JANE CARNEGIE

DAY 3 was a gruelling technical day focusing on the gas market and the ‘rationale’ for the project.

The hearings covered the expert evidence of Richard Bolt, Jerome Fahrer and Owen Kelp on behalf of the proponents.

Their expert reports and presentations can be found in the Tabled Documents – Nos:
• Bolt -66 & 189
• Fahrer – 67 & 190
• Kelp – 87 & 190.

https://s3.ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com/hdp.au.prod.app.vic-engage.files/1616/0262/5540/190._Proponent_-_Fahrer_and_Kelp_presentation_-_Economics_-_14_0ctober.pdf

In addition, Dr Fahrer did a submission in reply to Bruce Robertson’s expert evidence (for us) @ Document 167 and this was also addressed in the hearings.

The day opened with Counsel for the proponents introducing their experts emphasizing that Richard Bolt was focusing on the strategic policy context and Fahrer and Kelp were focused on ‘an independent’ overview of the energy market and impact of the Crib point terminal.

Mr Townshend, in his opening remarks for the proponents, also once again tried to narrow the focus of this aspect of the EES by stating it had to be ‘kept under control’ and should not stray into a wider ambit including environmental sustainable development and broader policy matters. The Chair did not respond. Mr Townsend then went on to give an overview of the expert evidence focusing on energy security in the policy context and that it will be a market decision to proceed. He also emphasized that this is a ‘light intervention’ in the market because the ship can be sailed away and is a transition energy policy.

Richard Bolt then went through his presentation. Mr Watters for the MPSC then undertook cross-examination and did an amazing job, examining different aspects of Mr Bolt’s evidence. Particular aspects included questioning and drilling down into:
• Total gas domestic supply v all supply (and LNG export components)
• Deficiencies in AEMO data and new COAG requirements for mandatory surveys to better base projections on
• Forecasted shortfalls up to 2024 and what they really mean
• Efficiencies in the energy market through decarbonisation policies
• Emphasis in Bolt report on gas powered generation when this is not a big user of gas
• The Victorian Emissions reductions targets and Report of expert panel which Bolt was not familiar with but he agreed energy regulatory changes were sound policy
• Discussion of domestic reserve policies which Bolt did not address in his policy context report and which Watters said had stopped the shortfall originally predicted in 2017
• The PM’s energy statement including support for initiatives for domestic gas and pipeline initiatives to which Bolt said these are all options but they lock in infrastructure whereas FSRU is ‘light touch’ approach to which MPSC counsel replied that this infrastructure could be used for green hydrogen.

Mr McArdle for our combined group then further cross-examined Mr Bolt focusing on:
• Policy context is not one overarching document but comprise many of which Bolt has synthesized only some and that Bolt focused only on supply side with an emphasis that more gas is good and that he did not address climate side policies
• Gas helps decarbonise but only in respect of gas powered generation so very narrow as ‘transition fuel
• Bolt said this Crib point was best option but when questioned he hadn’t properly examined other options such as pipeline upgrades.

Mr Kane, Counsel assisting then asked about when is greatest GPG peaks and this was identified as summer when gas demand generally is down.

Dr Fahrer and Mr Kelp then gave their presentation jointly. Cross examination by MPSC then addressed the following aspects:
• The modeling does not factor in current climate policy settings including Vic Interim target or on sustainable development as IEA does (see The Age today front page) re IEA on renewables
• In the absence of the project it was agreed gas consumption will be lower (but the they say prices will be higher) but they also said that the market will sort itself out so no actual shortfall
• Modeling is hypothetical and as such the claims made re Crib Point could also apply to another import terminal in Vic such as Viva energy – no comment
• Technical discussion on double counting of demand side initiatives (their view) but they couldn’t say what they were
• Their model does not address negative effects – very one sided
• Manufacturing claims demolished by MPSC.

Our Counsel then followed focusing on:
• The negative impacts are more consumption of fossil fuel – they agreed that b/c of lower cost there will be more consumption
• Reinforced position in previous cross-examination re other alternatives and plenty of gas in Australia.
• That modeling shows plenty of gas for Vic without the project until 2030 and that it would enable Vic to continue to be a net exporter until at least 2032 and that the modeling shows peak imports not until 2040.

Jason Kane, Counsel assisting IAC also asked questions and was able to clarify that the modeling suggest no gas imports in summer months until 2040 (really!!) Except for operational reasons and then it would only be about 2pjs

In summary in our view the cross-examination showed many weak aspects of the expert witnesses.

 

__________________________________________________________

The IAC Hearings ~ Day two by Chris Atmore

Tuesday 13 October (Day Two)

Our barrister successfully argued for Save Westernport to be permitted to address the IAC separately from the legal team for the three joint organisations.

The EPA said that whether discharging chlorine and cold water into our Ramsar wetland is allowable is a question that relies on how the Water SEPP – the relevant environmental policy – should be interpreted, and this hasn’t ever been tested. At this stage it’s not clear how much the IAC will leave for the EPA when the EPA decide after the Hearing whether to approve the FSRU works approval application.

The rest of Day Two consisted of opening submissions from project opponents – basically explaining what they will be arguing in more detail later in the Hearing. We first heard from the Mornington Peninsula and Bass Coast Shire Councils that AGL and APA have failed to justify the Project and to properly assess its impacts on tourism, groundwater, birds, Merran’s Sun Orchid, noise and traffic. Counsel for MPSC, Mr Watters stated that oil/fuel spills can take DECADES to clean up. 

The two Councils also singled out the fact that greenhouse gases from the project would undermine not only national emissions targets but also local commitments to addressing the climate emergency. They also emphasised the damage to local amenity that would be the result of visual and noise impacts, especially at Woolleys Beach.

Cardinia Shire Council flagged that they will address the project rationale, greenhouse gases and climate change in November, but today mainly indicated concerns about pipeline safety and impacts on land users, traffic safety and groundwater.

The Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation submission was a stark reminder of how due to being forced to proceed under COVID restrictions we could not even have a traditional welcome to Country. The BLCAC pointed out all the detail that the proponents have provided re different land uses – except regarding the traditional owners where the only relevant documents are the Cultural Heritage Management Plans that are still not finished. Even by the standards of other projects the BLCAC said this is poor.

Despite this we were generously welcomed remotely by Aunty Dyan Summers and Uncle Mik Edwards. Aunty Dyan told us:

‘It scares me that all of our stories are going to be lost if this project goes ahead and how that will affect me. I know I’m not the only Aboriginal woman that feels the same way. This land is not just stones and bones. Land is our being. We’ve learned to walk carefully over the land.’

Uncle Mik reinforced this:

‘It’s not just land to us, it’s our cathedral of spirituality and our library of history that goes back for aeons. We’re all connected through one red blood. We don’t own Mother Earth, she owns us all and will take us home one day. We’re all equal but I don’t feel it very often. I welcome you all to our custodianship of Mother Earth and hope this will be our chance to bring things into equal balance. We’re not well because we’re not balanced. Failure to listen to us exacerbates that.’

What has become known as ‘the Joint Submitter’ or ‘the Joint Environment Group’ – SW, EV and VNPA – then presented its opening submission, focusing for now mainly on why the IAC needs to consider whether the project is needed from within an interactive policy context. Part of the reason for doing this is to counter suggestions yesterday from the proponent that the IAC should just apply policy, not scrutinise it. We say that it’s too complex not to examine how much gas we really need and then consider, given all of the impacts of the project, whether this is really the best way to meet that need.

Finally, Save Westernport outlined how we are embedded in community and what Westernport Bay means to us. We talked about how hard it has been to engage with this process under COVID restrictions, but that the community is determined to oppose the project as strongly as we can, because AGL and APA will never have a social licence. Further in the Hearing we plan to raise issues that will not be dealt with via the Joint Environment Group and to complement the evidence presented from experts with our firsthand knowledge of the social impacts on us.

Bunurong Land Council BLCAC Opening Submission https://s3.ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com/hdp.au.prod.app.vic-engage.files/3616/0246/9542/185._BLCAC_-_Opening_submission.pdf

SWP Opening Submission https://s3.ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com/hdp.au.prod.app.vic-engage.files/9716/0221/8761/154._Save_Westernport_-_Opening_submission.pdf

Env Justice Australia Opening Submission https://s3.ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com/hdp.au.prod.app.vic-engage.files/6316/0221/9285/155._EJV_-_Opening_submissions.pdf

Mornington Peninsula Shire Council Opening Submission https://s3.ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com/hdp.au.prod.app.vic-engage.files/4016/0221/9286/160._MPSC_BCSC_-_Opening_submission.pdf

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Our submissions are Doc 154 and Doc 155 under Tabled Documents at https://engage.vic.gov.au/crib-point-IAC

___________________________________________________________

The IAC Hearings ~ Day 1,  Oct 17 Julia Stockigt 

Introductions and procedural matters were followed by a submission from QC Chris Townshend for the proponents AGL and pipeline company APA. For the first three weeks , we will be hearing from the proponents and the Port of Hastings on project rationale. They’ll present evidence on gas and from witnesses on the mitigation measures they claim will manage the environmental, social and economic impacts, and the safety concerns about the construction and operation of the project. 

Mr Townshend stated ‘If you want to challenge this proposal on its lack of sustainability, then you’ve picked the wrong project: this is a very “light touch” project, because at the end of its lifetime, the Floating Storage and Regasification Unit, (FSRU) can just be “Untied from the jetty and sail away”.

(Firstly, we didn’t ‘pick the project’ at all, rather, it is being forced upon a furious community that has opposed and rejected it in the strongest terms since the idea was first announced. Secondly, the proposed construction of this new fossil fuels infrastructure, with a 56km of new pipeline, through protected wetlands and private holdings could never just ‘sail away’. It would remain an abandoned asset FORVER. Far from being ‘lightbtouch’ , the AGL proposal poses so many significant environmental threats, it was ordered to undergo the highest environmental review available in Victoria.)

On Day 1 APA stated that all modifications to the proposed route responded to land use and development concerns, and to limit impacts to agriculture. Other than suggesting an alternative drilling method, none of the modifications were adopted for reasons of environmental protection, although  the proposed route cuts extremely close to the Tyabb waterholes, and similar areas particularly vulnerable to the destructive impacts of chytrid and cinnamon fungus. No mitigation measures to prevent the spread of these environmental pathogens were touched on.

You can listen to recordings of each day’s proceedings here  https://engage.vic.gov.au/crib-point-IAC/hearing-recordings

 

 

 

 

 

AGL’s Annual General Meeting October 7

AGL’s Annual General Meeting October 7

 

 

Did you know the AGL corporation is holding their Annual General Meeting, on October 7 2020 ?

Over the past few years, members and supporters of Save Westernport have attended the AGM to protest against  AGL and ask how the Board can allow AGL to embark on a new fossil fuels project in the face of the climate emergency and unmistakable community backlash.
The extent of community opposition confirms that the Crib Point proposal is at odds with every guiding policy that the AGL corporation claims to prioritise. We can draw media attention to this disparity by
asking confronting questions about this of the AGL Board in the presence of their shareholders.

The AGM is as an important opportunity to raise these concerns with shareholders and board members, to question their commitment to ‘Social License’ and emphasise the absence of community approval for the Crib Point proposal.

AGL’s hypocrisy in the misrepresentation of the public image they present as a responsible, innovative company is confirmed in their 2019 Sustainability report

AGL claims this policy “can be summarised in terms of leaving a positive legacy; AGL will strive to make a net positive social, economic and environmental contribution to the communities in which we operate. AGL’s community engagement commitments that operate under this framework are that AGL will:

● Be proactive: we will engage with communities early and often, so that we understand and respond to their interests and concerns.
● Be “exible and inclusive: we will offer a range of engagement opportunities that are tailored to the variety of needs and preferences of the communities in which we seek to operate.
● Be transparent: we will act honestly and ethically in all our dealings with the communities in which we operate, to ensure that our activities address community needs and expectations.”

Despite misrepresenting their commitment to sustainability and innovation, the actions of Australia’s biggest carbon polluter confirm a shocking lack of preparedness to confront the climate emergency or to support their customers in the inevitable transition from gas and other fossil fuels.

AGL’s past convictions for deceptive and misleading conduct highlight the need to challenge AGL and their Boardmembers whenever we can. As members of the public we are entitled to expect AGL to live up to the standards they have identified.

AGL has been determined to prolong the country’s hopeless dependence on gas, which has provided the AGL corporation with such sustained inflated profits, not even the destruction of our climate has proven enough of an incentive to ensure responsible action or the fulfillment if their stated aims. them with such enormous profits.

There’s little doubt that sustainable energy solutions would far more advanced, and would likely be ready to roll out now if AGL had not been allowed to spend several years and hundreds of millions of dollars exaggerating gas demand and the possibility of shortages in order to gain approval for their dangerous, inappropriate, irresponsible and out dated gas projects like Crib Point.

When they announced plans at Crib Point, AGL claimed their urgently need for gas to pimminent shortfalls for Victorian families and business. Since then we discovered AGL’s plans for two new gas fired power stations in SA and NSW, plus a third one to be built by pipeline company APA. under construction.

They have never said where they plan to get the gas from. 

And yet companies like AGL are under increasing pressure from their own shareholders and insurers to get with the times and do what is required to tackle climbing temperatures before 2050.

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

They know their shareholders are waking up to the fact that gas is no transition fuel . People expect more— they’re demanding responsible action on climate, and meaningful investment in sustainable projects, rather than just a symbolic commitment that, to AGL means little more than the tokenistic ‘greenwashing’ seen in their 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 providing your shareholder privilege to  a member of Save Westernport to ask a question at the AGM to someone at Save Westernport, please contact us to let us know. It is your right as a shareholder to allow a proxy to attend the AGM on your behalf.

This is a legitimate and effective way to exert pressure and encourage change within the corporate realm, used by groups like Sea Shepard, Market Forces and Friends of the Earth with great results.

If you’re an AGL shareholder and you’d like help framing an effective question for you to ask at the AGM on October 7, or for more information, please contact Save Westernport at  secretary@savewesternport.org or 59830094.

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

Despite paying lipservice to policies of energy sustainability and innovation, AGL’s actions continue to contradict this position. We aim to challenge them about this whenever we can.

The emphasis placed on renewable energy in their own advertising demonstrates an unmistakable awareness from within the highest levels of their strategic planning departments of how highly this is prioritised by Australians.

They know their shareholders are waking up to the fact that gas is no transition fuel . People expect more— they’re demanding responsible action on climate, and meaningful investment in sustainable projects, rather than just a symbolic commitment that, to AGL means little more than the tokenistic ‘greenwashing’ seen in their 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 providing your shareholder privilege to ask a question at the AGM to someone at Save Westernport, it is your right to allow a proxy shareholder to attend the AGM on your behalf.

This is a legitimate and effective way to exert pressure and encourage change within the corporate realm, used by groups like Sea Shepard, Market Forces and Friends of the Earth with great results.

Or if you’re an AGL shareholder and you’d like help submitting a challenging question that you could ask at the AGM on October 7, or for more information, please contact Save Westernport at  secretary@savewesternport.org or 59830094.

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

Email us at secretary@savewesternport.org  or watch this space for details of our AGM plans. 

‘Environmental democracy and mental health in the time of coronavirus’ an article by Chris Atmore

‘Environmental democracy and mental health in the time of coronavirus’ an article by Chris Atmore

(photo by Stacey Chillcott)

‘A browser is what you use to get onto a website on the Internet,’ I say to Peter. He’s having difficulty trying to use Zoom, which was downloaded for him so that he can access the test session for the forthcoming environmental impact assessment hearings.

A desktop computer might make things easier but that belongs to his son and his employer won’t allow Zoom to be used on it, so it’s a new iPad for Peter, which he is also trying to work out. It’s not helped by the fact that Peter’s not feeling sharp because he’s in the midst of chemotherapy treatment’…. read on

‘Art is in Our Nature’, MP News article & more

‘Art is in Our Nature’, MP News article & more

The work of 54 acclaimed contemporary artists comes together in this exciting exhibition to increase awareness of the campaign to stop AGL’s proposed gas import terminal from being approved at Crib Point, and to raise urgently needed funds for Save Westernport Inc to mount a legal challenge in partnership with Environment Victoria and the Victorian National Parks Association.

‘I reached out to the broader art community and was struck by the incredibly generous response of artists. Many have personal connections to the Mornington Peninsula, and it has been heart-warming to hear their stories. Our community is passionate about this issue and the broader community is as well.’

– Penelope Gebhardt, Curator

 

Read our article in the latest Mornington Peninsula News, click on the image

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 as she explained the purpose of the Directions Hearing, and laid 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 on September 17, 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 EPA 

– the Proponents AGL, and pipeline company APA

– the Port of Hastings Development Authority

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

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’.

This led to concerns that the AGL CEO’s comments might have unduly influenced Minister Wynne’s decision that led him to announce that the EES would proceed without due regard for the difficulties of COVID-19, the State of Disaster, or the escalating restrictions of Stage 4 lockdown that as predicted, have been making participation in the EES process so difficult for the public. 

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, requesting that he consider how greatly 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 be remotely operated. DELWP representatives have confirmed that it is also the most complex EES ever held in Victoria.

Just as COVID restrictions limited the ability of the public to collaborate on reviewing thousands of pages of AGL’s EES reports to make a submission, AGL will also benefit from the inevitable advantage they’ll receive due to the considerable challenges of COVID-19 and the ways that will impact the EES Hearing. 

For the last two years, Witnesses for AGL have been able to visit the area without restriction. In contrast, our expert witnesses may not ever have the chance to see the proposed locations before being required to give evidence at the Hearing. 
Groups including Save Westernport will have difficulty  advising our legal teams in real time when neither of us can be present during 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 outline how they plan to provide all that requested information to the Panel.

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.

Suggested sites for the IAC Panel to visit, and numerous witness statements are available in the Tabled Documents for the Hearing. This list is constantly being updated.

For more information on the EES Hearings 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 that the Panel should visit sites on French Island, Woolleys Beach and Warringine Park. It’s hoped that Panel members will appreciate the extent of environmental degradation the AGL proposal would bring unless it is rejected.

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.

A virtual tour of Ryhll on Phillip Island is available here

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 vista across the Bay from nearly every lookout and vantage point.

This and other disastrous impacts and safety concerns are detailed 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 by the EES Panel in opposition to the AGL proposal.

These public submissions can be viewed here on the IAC website ( Inquiry Advisory Committee).
The Panel Chair confirmed at the Hearings that a controversial decision by Planning Panels Victoria has resulted in thousands of submissions being excluded from the official tally. Save Westernport raised this matter through our legal representative at the Directions Hearing. This resulted in the official tally being revised upwards from 3083 to 6059.

Even though this total smashed all previous records for EES submissions received in Victoria, the Panel’s decision not to count as many as half the submissions received has angered and disappointed many people.

This outcome was attributed to “incorrect advice” that meant thousands of submissions were lodged through an alternative government email address.

Understandably, the decision has been confusing, because the department acknowledges receiving some, but not all of the submissions through the alternate, (incorrect) website, and all submissions in question were received before Planning Panel’s deadline on August 26.

While submissions in this group will not be counted as individual submissions, Planning Panels Victoria states that they WILL be still be reviewed, and the information they contain taken into account. 

The enormous number of submissions against the AGL proposal is still many times greater than the numbers usually received for EES projects in Victoria, which confirms 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 during the EES Hearings by Environmental Justice Australia. However, we are still short of our target to provide legal Counsel throughout the two months of Hearings, and to engage expert witnesses to challenge the inadequate 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 to help us meet the costs of expert witnesses and legal representation to take on AGL at the EES Hearings. 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, you’ll also be helping us make sure the community’s interests are 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.

 

 

 

 

 

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’s EES Submission

Save Westernport’s EES Submission

:

Save Westernport’s  Submission against AGL’s Environment Effects Statement has been lodged with Planning Panels Victoria, who will now oversee the Public Hearings for the EES.

Our submission can now be viewed here

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.

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

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 on October 12.

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 still have 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