‘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

Full Moon Meditation ~ October 2nd, 7am

Full Moon Meditation ~ October 2nd, 7am

What is Sacred Activism?

‘Sacred Activism is a transforming force of compassion-in-action that is born of a fusion of deep spiritual knowledge, courage, love, and passion, with wise radical action in the world. The large-scale practice of Sacred Activism can become an essential force for preserving and healing the planet and its inhabitants.’

Andrew Harvey

Meditating during a Full Moon amplifies the power and intention of that meditation. Also meditating in groups empowers and supports all of us who need to continuously hold a positive and hope-filled trajectory when it comes to any kind of activism for the purpose of creating a better world. ~Candy vR

Save Westernport and AGL

AGL have very very deep pockets and endless resources. They are very determined to go ahead with this idiotic proposal of theirs, to install a gas import jetty and pipeline (APA). The whole project stinks and the majority of Mornington Peninsula residents and visitors do not want this to happen to the sacred and life-filled waters of Warn-mar-in.  AGL also more-than-likely have the State government on their side, complicit. Which adds to their determination, despite the fact that they know they do not have ‘Social License’.

There Full Moon group meditations and Vigils can change everything. Please spread the word to your friends. The more people we have at our meeting the more powerful.

NB: To attend, please email us at: savewesternport@gmail.com, and put ‘Full Moon Meditation’ in the subject line.  We will then send you the zoom link on Thursday afternoon.

Please share widely!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shaun’s story

Shaun’s story

I grew up and spent the first 18 years of my life in Crib Point. My parents still live in the same house and so I return every couple of months or so to visit them.

Its low profile and low-key atmosphere are attributes that I’ve always valued and are what drove my parents here decades ago in the first place. It has enjoyed this low-profile status after much of the heavy industry left in the 1980’s. Since that time its environmental assets, bushland, wetlands, tourism and its portion of Westernport Bay have all enjoyed a gradual recovery as it continues to transition away from its industrial past.

Our wetlands are home to the world’s southernmost mangroves, which are a major tourist attraction, employing many across the Mornington Peninsula both directly and indirectly. This project threatens the wellbeing of this delicate ecosystem, and those industries that rely on its prosperity. These include the world-renowned Penguin Parade and Seal Rocks on nearby Phillip Island, board walking, birdwatching, whale watching, farming and fishing, which are major employers and tourism drivers in the wider Westernport Bay region.

I attribute my deep curiosity and knowledge of the natural world to being able to explore this wonderful area every weekend as a youth. I have been studying the biological world for a decade now and have a deep appreciation for its complexities.

It wasn’t until many years after having left Crib Point for Melbourne that I realized how utterly unique the place is. A coastal town with a country flavour that has remnants of an industrial past, but also has extraordinary recreation and further tourism potential given its wetlands and surrounding Woolley’s Beach Reserve and associated boardwalk and bushland.

I have really grown to appreciate it, and whenever I get the chance to tell someone about the hidden gem I grew up in, I jump at it. I mean there are birds that spend part of their life cycle between Westernport Bay and far eastern Siberia in Russia, it’s extraordinary! There are now regularly whales and dolphins in the area, this has steadily increased since I was living there. When I was younger, I used to sit on Woolley’s Beach and just enjoy the peace and tranquility, the amazing birdlife, the fishing boats, and of course would also have a swim in summer. I would stare at French Island and dream about going there one day and exploring its secrets.

But with this proposal comes a hulking 290-meter-long, 50-meter-wide, 17 story high obstruction in the form of a FSRU – what a way to drive a hammer through one of Crib Point’s most important assets. Crib Point has a unique mix of attributes and a low-key atmosphere that residents highly value.

Our lifestyles, the reason why we all moved here will be gone along with the peace and tranquility.

Having grown up within earshot of the old fire station in Crib Point, I am well accustomed to the sense of anxiety and dread whenever the fire-alarm goes off. The Crib Point, Bittern, Stony Point, Hastings area is extremely bushfire prone, it has experienced major fires recently, and every summer comes anxiety whenever the local fire brigades alarm goes off. I grew up about 2 kilometers from where the Crib Point jetty is now, so this holds a very important place in my heart.

This project will contribute to a worsening bushfire outlook given its vast emission of greenhouse gases and also increase the risk locally given the volatile nature of gas.

One of the most vivid memories I have of my childhood was when I was about 8 years old and my next door neighbour (who was a firefighter) came and knocked on our front door and warned us there’s a major out of control fire at HMAS Cerberus (naval base). So of course, we packed some essentials, let other locals know and tuned into the local radio station for what to do next.
We then hopped on our roof to see if we could get a glimpse and there, we saw the great Elvis firefighting helicopter fly right over our house near the old fire station in Crib Point. I remember it well; it was so close. It was a very scary time in my life.

It was a lesson in the awesome power of our natural environment if we are not prepared, if we don’t balance our societies needs with the environment’s needs, and when we fail to get it right. That was about 20 years ago and to continue exacerbating bushfire risk is about the most irresponsible action to take at this point.
This project would increase the severity of an already full bushfire season.

My parents now rely on the VicEmergency app to get the latest bushfire info. This is their new normal in summertime and increasingly, as the bushfire season expands, spring and autumn as well. We know when we listen to our firefighters that mitigation in back burning and keeping fire paths clear is only a minor part of the overall fire response. The best response is to maintain our relatively stable and predictable global climate, by not investing in any new fossil fuel infrastructure.

No amount of firefighting helicopters and finances can save a major gas pipeline when a multi-story fire aided by its own wind and lightning weather system is raging along.
Every local politician at least has some serious concerns about the rationale over this project. All four of the councils that are affected, include the City of Casey Council, Cardinia Shire Council, Bass Coast Shire, and the Mornington Peninsula Shire. They all voice concerns of their own regarding the potential impacts and the inadequacy of the EES.

Westernport Bay is such an asset to the Greater Melbourne area and beyond, and to see it compromised will not be acceptable.

The project rationale is inadequate and doesn’t meet the nation’s needs, and given how numerous viable alternatives in the renewable energy sector are ready to meet our country’s needs, this project is unnecessary.

Best put by Australia’s premier climate authority the Climate Council, the world does not need any new fossil fuel infrastructure, the case for investment in new gas infrastructure in Australia is weak at best. We need to create clean jobs and rapidly shift Australia away from fossil fuels. We do not need new gas. It’s time to put the community and the climate first by creating jobs in clean energy.

They have already outlined why investing in gas infrastructure is a terrible idea for a number of reasons. The alternatives are ready to use now. A mix of tidal, offshore and onshore wind, geothermal, hydropower, biomass, solar on all suitable households and public buildings with a mix of battery storage, pumped hydro-storage, smart grids and revitalising our wetlands and forests to capture some of that carbon.

Diversify the economy; where has the tax revenue from our mining boom, education and tourism booms gone? We are among the biggest exporters of coal, gas and iron ore, why hasn’t the profit been reinvested back into our community making it more resilient, like what Norway has done?

We see ambitious work being done in other states such as South Australia and it’s Tesla Battery, Tasmania with its ‘Battery of the Nation’ proposal, and the ACT with its 100% renewables policy. Where is Victoria’s ambition, aren’t we the most progressive state in Australia?

Is this really where Australia is at in its climate response obligations, is this really where we are happy to situate ourselves on the global platform? A domestic gas reservation policy and greater use of renewable energy and energy efficiency schemes are seen as the overarching
solutions.

We need a vision for an inspiring future, and we have the technology, expertise, finances and the plan forward, we can do it.

#savewesternport stands with #schoolstrike4climate

#savewesternport stands with #schoolstrike4climate

https://www.schoolstrike4climate.com/buildourfuture

Save Westernport supports everyone doing at-home protests against gas development on this Global Day of Action against Gas.
Many people on the Mornington Peninsula are running online or private events, joining Hundreds of Thousands of people protesting about the gas threat here in Australia.

Check out the local events for this global day of action here
https://www.schoolstrike4climate.com/buildourfuture

Today the @schoolstrikeforclimate are calling us to flood the PM @scottmorrisonmp on social media —twitter, Facebook, Instagram, tiktok, and with phonecalls (02)6277 7700 to tell him we demand a safe, clean funded future, not a gas lead recovery.

Let’s call the PM to tell him that gas is no ‘transition fuel’. It’s just as dangerous and inefficient to burn as coal, and every dollar spent on it is a dollar taken from the Renewable Energy solutions needed to power our future.

Our demands are no public funds for gas and other damaging fossil fuel projects. Instead, recovery funds should be spent on.

1. Resourcing aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led solutions that guarantee land rights and care for country.

2. The creation of jobs that fast-track solutions to the climate crisis and help communities recover.

3. Projects that transition our economy and communities to 100% renewable energy by 2030x through expanded public ownership”.

Thank you @sachaguggenheimer #fundourfuturenotgas @schoolstrikeforclimate rallies are being held around Australia . @scottmorrisonmp

Sacha: ecosystem collapse will destroy far more than just our economy. We’ll look back on Coronavirus and think, what a walk in the park compared to the devastation brought on us by #climatechange

Link in my bio to the online @schoolstrikeforclimate wrap up rally at 6pm EST. We’re in a pandemic, so this Day of Action won’t have us gathering in huge numbers, but each of us will be taking action, however and wherever we can.


💪🌎 @savewesternport

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/sep/17/scott-morrisons-gas-led-recovery-what-is-it-and-will-it-really-make-energy-cheaper

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Save our Westernport Bay ~ by Ingrid Tadich

Save our Westernport Bay ~ by Ingrid Tadich

I relocated from Sandringham to Somers 5 years ago, attracted by the unique environment and unspoilt beauty of Westernport Bay, recognised by Ramsar as a Wetland of international importance. I have learned that this unique and fragile place is also a beautiful sanctuary for people, sea mammals, such as whales, furs seals and dolphins and migratory and local birds.

My family delight in their stays at their Somers home, to enjoy the wildness of the foreshore, the swims, the play in the sand dunes, the discovery of the preciousness of nature and the natural environment as well as the changes seasons bring to it. What a wonderful grounding for my grandchildren, time out to explore, wonder and just be and learn to appreciate and respect the natural world.

My daily walks on the foreshore are a blessing, the water’s clean, the coast line ever changing with our strong tidal systems that wash up large varieties of usually hidden treasures such as seaweeds, sponges, crustaceans, jellyfish, shark eggs and mangrove seed pods, providing a peak at what’s below the surface.

A rich diversity of life.

I’m also fascinated by the variety of birds that live on the bay or around her shores. In the summer of 2018, migratory swans found refuge in our bay for a week or so, one morning on my walk I noticed that only a solo swan was left. It appeared to have a damaged wing, a very sad sight to see and was the subject of much community concern. Fresh water was left out for the bird and on my daily walk I was relieved every day to see that it had survived the night. The swan stayed through the autumn and the winter and in the Spring we were all delighted to see another swan had arrived with two signets, they stayed together for a few days and then flew away. A family reunion? Maybe, I like to think so. It was the cause of much celebration.

Walking to Sandy Point is a sheer joy, the beauty of the bleached banksia trunks that have been uprooted from their sand dunes by the wild storms and now lay silvered by sun and sea water. The clear waters in their aqua’s and blues revealing small fish darting from our shadows or those caste by a hunting bird. The walk reveals a changing landscape and the high tidal changes can make this an exciting adventure for those caught unaware. It is when reaching beautiful and historic Sandy Point that you can truly appreciate the beauty of Westerport Bay as the separation between Philip Island and French Island is seen for the first time revealing the grandeur of her waters.

I learned to kayak in Westernport Bay motivated by the proximity of our resident dolphins . To watch them hunt and play and to witness their curiosity as they swim among people, play with dogs and come up to yachts and small boats. I’ve had the privilege of having a proud mother swim right up to my kayak with her young pup trustingly almost placing her head on my bow, as if to say look at the wonder I’ve created. Unforgettable. Westernport Bay is also a refuge for migratory whales with Southern Right Whales, Humpbacks and Killer Whales being regular visitors.

The AGL proposal threatens the pristine environment of Westernport Bay. They plan to draw water from the bay to thaw their frozen gas. In this process our sea water is chlorinated to destroy all living things and cooled by another 7 degrees celsius before being dumped back into the bay. Imagine the impact of 468 million litres of cooled chlorinated water being dumped in the bay everyday. How can this not have impact? How can it not destroy a beautifully balanced eco system?

This totally goes against our commitment as a signatory to the Ramsar Convention of Wetlands of International Importance to protect Westernport Bay.

To add insult to injury AGL could install a closed system to recycle the chlorinated waters, without dumping them in the bay. They have so little respect for the environment that they are unwilling to do so, due to the cost. A much greater cost would be the denigration of these wetlands for the future generations of living things.

AGL’s project has a 20 year lifespan before it changes to renewables.
Is 20 years delay really worth the destruction of our beautiful Bay?
Renewables are available now, they are efficient, effective and cheaper than the price we pay for our current forms. A much greater cost is to enable short term greed to delay the use of renewable energy to provide cater for our energy needs. Gas is toxic, its destructive and it’s ultimately far too costly .

Wetlands are amazing places and are among the most biodiverse eco systems in the world. Research suggests that they can also capture and store large amounts of carbon lessening the impact of climate change. Shouldn’t we be protecting this unique and irreplaceable wetland on Melbourne’s doorstep for future generations?

Not only for our people to witness and enjoy, but also or for the survival of the huge variety of species in their own right.

Is it not our sacred duty to do so?

Say no to AGL!

 

Heart Story by Stacey Chilcott

Heart Story by Stacey Chilcott

I grew up in a seaside town known to many as Hastings, in Victoria. I learnt about nature with my Mum who would take my brother and I along the Warringine Park boardwalk after school. As a young child, I used to sit and curiously watch the mud crabs scurry around, dwarfed by the mangroves and melaleucas that surrounded us. Connecting with nature on these walks taught us that there was more to our world than burgeoning local industries and housing developments.

At that age I had no idea about bureaucratic and financial terminologies adults used to value ecosystems like this. Nor did I know that this place would qualify as a Ramsar wetlands or a Biosphere Reserve. All I knew was that it was a special place for me and my family. So special, it inspired me to become an aquatic biologist and dedicate my life to protecting fragile and integral ecosystems like Westernport Bay.

Most recently, this area has been subject to a development proposal by AGL and APA Group, who intend to develop an intrusive Floating Regasification Unit (FSRU) and pipeline in Westernport Bay, in the heart of the Warringine Ramsar Wetlands. I feel fortunate to be a part of a dedicated and stoic community group who are fighting this proposal by reflecting the intrinsic connection we all share with this special place, our home. This community group, called Save Westernport, has garnered the attention of an NGO, Environment Victoria, who are supporting our cause to push for the protection of this area because they recognize how ludicrous it would be for our government to permit AGL to install a 300m long gas factory in the wetlands.

Collectively, we are all concerned that there is no need for this development, that the development is not financially beneficial for the region or environmentally safe for the climate, that the local environmental impacts, such as light pollution, bushfire risk and damage to the coastal areas are going to be disastrous for the longevity of this 25 year project. But personally, I am worried that this development will have a detrimental impact on current and future generations, who will suffer solastalgia.

I implore our politicians to stand with our community and fight with heart against this project and to push for a strengthening of our environmental laws. This proposal should never have come so far.

I want to thank my local community, our Boon Wurrung Traditional Custodians and everyone who has pitched in to support this campaign to keep AGL out of our beautiful, sacred waterways.

These special places should be protected for every being.

Link to Stacey’s powerful video

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 

 

 

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

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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