On August 30, activity at the jetty increased and a fence that limits public access to Shelly Beach went up to the north side of the jetty at Crib Point.   Communication from both AGL and the Port of Hastings have been extremely unclear.  Are these the designated perimeter and site buildings for remediation?  Or something else?  It is difficult to understand how remediation work on the Crib Point jetty could be underway when AGL and APA still have not made their application to Government for the proposed LNG import facility and pipeline to Pakenham.

“The end of August” has repeatedly been given by AGL and APA as the date that they would finally make their applications to the Andrews Government. On Friday August 31, AGL sent out an update saying they are still not ready to proceed, yet work appears to be in progress for improvements and modification whose only purpose can be to prepare the jetty for AGL.

The Port Admits These Works Will Be for AGL

The Port of Hastings Newsletter states:

The work is being undertaken now to ensure Berth 2 is ready in time for the AGL Gas Import Jetty project, should the project proceed. If AGL does not proceed with the project, Berth 2 will be available for use by other port users.

Until these applications are made, no assessment can be made of the gas processing plant or connecting pipeline.   To say that the berth will be available for other port users is ludicrous!  Who, excepting AGL, needs these modifications?  Nobody!

The $17 million dollars of works appear to be very specific and, by the port’s own admission, will prepare the jetty to the very detailed specifications required to moor the Floating Storage Regasification Unit (FSRU) proposed by AGL.  It is clear from section 2.3 of the Port’s Environmental Management Plan that many of these modifications are solely for the purposes AGL will need them and will render the jetty unusable for many other conventional purposes.

AGL has stated:

Planning for the project is based on calculations and assessments of many variable factors. Changes in these factors such as the difference between prevailing international and domestic gas prices, or big shifts in demand for gas, might make the project unviable. In such circumstances, AGL might decide not to proceed with the project.

These extensive works will include the removal of native vegetation, and could stir up toxic acid sulphite sediments from previous industry, now stable in the sand around the jetty. Yet these disruptive Works (within a protected RAMSAR wetland) are commencing now, for a project that has not been approved and may not even eventuate.

Though the Department of Environment Land, Water and Planning has issued cursory “consents”, they seem insufficient once the location and scale of these works is considered. Crib Point jetty lies within the boundary of Westernport’s protected Ramsar wetland.

Remediation Activities Contravene Existing Environmental Legislation

Ramsar Wetlands are governed by the Federal Environmental Protection Biodiversity Act.  The EPBC website states:

Before taking an action that could have a significant impact on a matter protected by the EPBC Act, you must refer your proposed action to the Minister.

… AND …

It is an offence under the Act to take an action that is likely to result in a significant impact on a matter of national environmental significance without approval.

Let’s Not Tolerate This

Let’s be on the watch for any works which begin without Government approvals.  At any time the whole project could be cancelled or not approved or the gas market could change, causing AGL to withdraw their interest.  Their lack of clear communication should make everyone wary that AGL and the Port of Hastings may be trying to cleverly exploit loopholes, starting works using questionable approvals without any consideration for the future.

Once this project is finally referred to Government, State Minister for Planning, Richard Wynne will decide whether or not an Environmental Effects Study (ESS) into the project’s impact is required.  We must help convince him of the urgency of an ESS study.

Please help.  Contact Minister Wynne and demand that everything is done to protect Westernport and its communities from this inappropriate proposal.

Email: richard.wynne@parliament.vic.gov.au
Phone:   (03) 9415 8901
Website:  http://www.richardwynne.com.au/contact-2/
Electorate office: Shop 6 232 Brunswick Street Fitzroy VIC 3065. 
Postal Address:  PO Box 1474. Collingwood VIC 3066.