Minna’s Story

Minna’s Story

I grew up in Balnarring but have lived in Coburg North for the last 6 years. I am lucky enough to still be connected and able to visit my parents (pre Covid lockdown) at this beachside paradise that I will always call home. It has always been a great pleasure and honour to share this special coastline with fellow travellers, and my loved ones over the years. I have many stories I could tell. Like the morning after my wedding day, when my husband and I felt the urgency to begin our own unique adventures as a wedded couple. Boarding a deflating blow up boat at Balnarring Beach, we rapidly gained speed, drifting out towards Philip Island. We began to realize the potential risk of our situation, witnessing all our most beloved lining the beach in distress. With panic rising, we started to paddle as fast as we could to shore, when my husband asked me in alarm, ‘Are there sharks here?’ Having noticed large shadows under our boat we quickly recognised the dolphins, who, once we arrived at shore exhibited a twirling display for us. We have since shared these same beaches with our two young children, exploring the rock pools for crabs and rolling in the waves.

It is through my distance from it that I have begun to understand more deeply the grounding that this place has offered me throughout my life. In particular, Merricks Beach is a place that I long for, and even visit in my imagination, for respite and nourishment. With the caves and coastal banksias, the memories of swimming with stingrays and in storms, this beach in particular, has offered me many moments of rapture. The beach stretching from Balnarring to Merricks, and less frequently to Somers, has soothed my soul. Even on colder days, a quick dip in the salty bay is enough to enliven the body; nestling my feet in the sand and allowing the wind to whip my worries away while I watch as the sunset welcomes the calm of night.

In moments of heart ache and sorrow the waves have soothed me. Their rhythm and consistency have reminded me that the world will continue to turn, even in times of pain and suffering. These same waves remind me that these are the unceded lands and waters of the Bunurong (Boon Wurrung) people; this bay can offer unconditional nourishment for generations to come, as it has so done for thousands of generations before.

I wonder who are the decision makers here, and how can they better honour the rightful custodians of these lands and waterways? In the name of ‘progress’ AGL offer yet another effort to dislocate and disregard our right and responsibility to a healthy ecosystem. While I hold hope, I also sit with dread for how much more could be destroyed before it’s realised we have lost too much.

Anne Tillig’s Heart Story

Anne Tillig’s Heart Story

My connection to Western Port Bay started in 1996 when we purchased land fronting the bay.  Elizabeth Island is now my home.  I feel lucky to wake up to the sight of Western Port Bay all around me, every day. 

Most days I circumnavigate the island in my pedal paddle kayak.  It takes just under an hour.  Then I jump in and swim for a while.  This connects me intimately to the water, the shoreline and the birdlife and leaves me feeling alive.

The bay is a special place that rewards for spending time with it.  Day by day it grows on you.  It doesn’t show its splendour at first.  It wants you to slow down, stop and be with it a while.  Over time you get to know its tidal shoreline.  Orange lichened rocks, ancient sandstone, pebbles, sand, mudflats that become lakes with the tides.  The shoreline has rockpools and mangroves with pink pigface and other plants with names like bidgee-widgee and beaded glasswort.  Fish of all sorts nurture their young amongst the mangroves.  In the bay are gummy sharks, King George whiting, snapper, Australian salmon.  We pluck oysters from the rocks and eat them fresh.  Pacific gulls and oyster catchers sit atop shoreline rocks, looking like they’re standing on water.  Herons and spoonbills stalk around the mudflats finding food.  Swallows, wrens and willy-wagtails eat the insects on land.

You can tell it’s a delicate balance of interwoven life.

I am horrified and aggrieved that any government would allow a private company to irreparably destroy our beautiful natural resources for their short-term gains.

My home, Elizabeth Island, and the bay, belong together.  The bay is integral to my life and my wellbeing.  I will soon be publishing a book about my relationship to this special place.  I want to share with you an excerpt from my upcoming book, which is about that relationship.  Elizabeth Island has grounded me and given me a sense of place.  The bay is integral to that.  This excerpt describes my first encounter with the island.

‘Half-dried sea grass lined the high-water mark.  It sat in a continuous line atop a shore of partially submerged brown pebbles and rocks. Shells washed smooth by the tides were caught in the browned sea grass.  Through the lifting light clouds, the sun warmed the brown and grey burnt sea grass salty bath to barely visible steam and marshy odours.

We ventured into the tussock grass above the shoreline, nervous about what might lie under the thick grass.  Two black swans glided past, poking out their necks at us, as if wondering what we were doing in their territory.  Other sea birds squawked and landed on the rocks.

I could tell this was a unique and special place.

Michael returned to the boat, concerned about the fast-running tide.  He got us all aboard and the boys pulled up anchor.

We began to circumnavigate the island, approaching the northern point.  We could see less than half a metre of water under the boat.  The fast receding tide forced us back. 

That was my first encounter with Elizabeth Island.  Tides ruled.  Back then I’d fancied myself as close to nature.  Many years on, I marvel at what slowly unfolded:  an engagement with that island and surrounding seas that brought me into a dance with nature I could never have imagined. 

The feel and direction of the winds, the heaviness of the rain, the height and direction of tidal flow, the seasons, moonlight, cloud cover, sunlight.  The response of the sea between the island and the mainland to daily, monthly and yearly cycles of the sun and moon – this all determined decisions about where and how to be, explore or do, on and around the island. 

Having so squeezed me into Elizabeth Island time, the surrounding sea would dance its moods to my passage on or off land.’

Westernport Bay surrounds my home and greets me with stunning vistas every day.  It is my home.

On most important things that happen or are about to happen around the bay, the instigators reach out to locals.  I have not seen this happening from AGL in the same way.  I am not aware of organised engagement by AGL with residents.  It is indicative of a disregard for the people and place they are impacting.  I wonder how much our government has engendered in them that stance.

I guess it’s difficult to comprehend that you would have to tell this to a government.  Of course, this proposed project will destroy our valuable bay and its delicate ecological balance. 

This development is on the other side of the bay to me, so I won’t see the visual impact.  I can’t imagine how it would be for anyone who walks that shoreline, to have to look at a large gas platform like that.  But I know the ecology of the bay is so interconnected, and we as humans are so interconnected, that I will notice the impact over on this side.  I have already noticed the effects of climate change.  There are fewer insects on the island now, and this means fewer land birds.  The special sea birds that used to be around feeding off the mudflats seem to have disappeared, replaced by hardier breeds.

We are already seeing the impact of climate change on our planet and our local environment.  It is a result of putting big business ahead of smart connected communities in healthy environments.  We want a government that will recognise what matters and put people and our environment first.  A government that approves this AGL project will not get my vote.

Anne Tillig

 

 

Help Stop AGL. Get help with your EES submission!

Help Stop AGL. Get help with your EES submission!

It’s no surprise that people are feeling daunted by AGL’s EES – it’s over 11,000 pages of technical information with just weeks to make a comment. 

But it’s not that hard and you can make a difference. Make your voice heard, and your concerns about AGL’s proposal known by writing a submission. 

Last week Save Westernport and Environment Victoria held online workshops on How to Write a Powerful Submission. 
You can read some tips and information from that forum here.

We’re currently planning a public forum to discuss what this project would mean for the region, and why it’s so important to stop AGL in Westernport. We hope our elected representatives will join us to talk about what they are doing to prevent it hear what they have to say about the campaign.

Remember during the Federal election last year Save Westernport held a public meeting where each of the candidates for the seat of Flinders campaigned against the AGL project?

Read about it here in the June 2019 issue of the Balnarring Bridge. 

The details of that online forum are still being finalised, watch this space and sign up here to receive Save Westernport’s regular newsletter for all the details as soon as they’re available
https://savewesternport.org/newsletter/

Remember over 22,000 individual submissions were received against the Narrabri gas project !

The Minister needs to receive as many submissions as possible against AGL’s plans in Westernport, so he’s in no doubt about the extent of Community opposition to AGL’s dirty and exploitative gas proposal.

All Our Somers…………by Marnee Fraser

All Our Somers…………by Marnee Fraser

Somers Beach is a very special jewel in the crown of Westernport Bay. Over the past 40 years, I have watched its dynamic shoreline change with every passing year. Its crystal-clear waters stretch from Coolart, Somers School Camp and Merricks Creek, all the way east from the yacht club, through to Williams Point and around past the 100 Steps to Sandy Point where French Island opens up across the bay.

I have walked on this beach every morning for many years and everyday, no matter the season, it takes my breath away when I emerge from the foreshore near the creek mouth and take in the view down to Flinders and across to Phillip Island.

Each season brings its own surprises in the sea, the clouds, the shoreline, the birdlife and our very own pod of dolphins. Over the years I have witnessed attempts to subdue the tide and its erosive effects. Rock walls, groins and sea walls have come and gone over time – some successful, most not –nature just continues to do her thing.

Our children have walked Somers beach, explored its foreshore, surfed its creek mouth, snorkelled over its reefs and sea-grasses and played with their friends on its sand. They continue to do so as adults and want their children to experience the same joys as they have.

AGL is simply not to be trusted to love our bay like we do. Their record of environmental damage is testament to this with $6,500,000 being paid out in fines over the past 5 years.

 

Morn Pen Council Information Session on AGL’s EES

Morn Pen Council Information Session on AGL’s EES

Concerned about AGL’s LNG proposal ?                 

 Have Your Say – Make a Submission

You can have your say on this project by making a written submission to State Government. Details on how to make a submission are here.

You can make a submission as part of a Residents Group or Community Organisation, however petitions don’t count as a submission.

Community Information Session

The Mornington Peninsula Shire Council held a community information session about the AGL project on Thursday 16 July.  Due to Coronavirus restrictions, the session was held as an online webinar. You can watch it here

Members of the public joined the webinar on the night, where Council officers provided an outline of:

  • the project proposal,
  • approvals process,
  • Council’s planned response,
  • key dates and events,
  • answers to frequently asked questions.

Members of the public had the opportunity to ask their own questions via the online chat function.

Please note: For those who could not attend the webinar, a recording of the session and copy of the PowerPoint have been uploaded to the Council’s website.

Save Westernport has made the Council’s presentation available here
https://youtu.be/LnLM1KIDmyk

 

  • Questions during the webinar were submitted by typing into the Q&A chat function on the screen.
  • The webinar did not have the capability to host verbal questions from guests.

    The EES is our chance to have our say on the AGL proposal.

    Save Westernport encourages you to make a submission and attend our information session with Environment Victoria to find out how.

    We’ll let you know the details soon.

STOP PRESS ~ The EES is out now!

STOP PRESS ~ The EES is out now!

In 2018 Victorian Minister for Planning Richard Wynne called for an Environment Effects Statement on AGL’s giant gas import proposal in response to community concerns about countless safety and environmental risks.

The EES has now been released and the documents are available online.

Q: Why does AGL continue to publish lovely photos of Westernport on their reports?
We know how beautiful the Bay is. What we need to know is WHAT the spectre of the proposed FSRU ship, 17 storeys tall, would really look like at our beach. The pictures provided by AGL are misleading; they have been cropped and the schematics shown in their EES reports are not to scale.

The Public Comments period for the EES on AGL’s proposal on the Mornington Peninsula commenced on July 2 and will run until August 26 2020.

That’s just 40 business days for submissions, under and a declared Stage 4 State of Disaster. But we must prevent fossil fuels companies like AGL and APA the pipeline corp, from taking advantage of the global pandemic. From the threat to marine life and Endangered Species, to Social and Climate Impacts, there are countless reasons why this project must not be approved.

We encourage you all to make a submission during this time. You can focus on just single area or areas of concern to tell the Minister why you object to AGL’s dangerous and unnecessary plans. 

Or sign up here for support and advice from Save Westernport and Environment Victoria on how to make your submission. 

Minister Wynne needs to hear from this community, and from all Victorians why AGL’s plans to import and process gas, and to construct a 60 km gas pipeline are entirely incompatible with the proposed location in Westernport Bay.

There is nothing that AGL could do to tweak this project to make it acceptable. The government and Victorians have been misled with tales of gas shortages and cheaper prices, with AGL only now admitting that the price of imported gas would be set by international markets.

Rather than helping us transition from fossil fuels as they claim, AGL’s project would keep us burning gas for the next 20 years or more.

This project is the last thing we need. AGL have shown they are not worthy of our trust, and they’ve admitted it will not result in cheaper gas. Why would we risk degrading our precious marine life, when there is NOTHING in it for Victorians? 
This is our chance to tell the Minister why AGL’s project MUST NOT BE APPROVED.

The EES reports are now available online
This includes  AGL’s Summary Report and a document called How to Navigate the EES

There’s an Executive Summary, three volumes of reports, and several attachments including Environmental Risk and Climate Change Risk Assessments and Maps. 
The EES also contains the following technical reports:

Technical Report A: Marine Biodiversity 
Technical Report C: Surface water
Technical Report D: Groundwater
Technical Report F: Greenhouse gas
Technical Report G: Air quality
Technical Report H: Noise and vibration
Technical Report I: Landscape and visual
Technical Report J: Transport
Technical Report K: Safety, hazard and risk
Technical Report L: Land use
Technical Report M: Social
Technical Report N: Business
Technical Report O: Agriculture
Technical Report P: Aboriginal cultural heritage
Technical Report Q: Historic heritage


Watch this space for more information about how to write your submission —and make sure your voice is heard.

This is our opportunity to tell Minister Wynne that we unequivocally object to the AGL corporation and their brazen and foolhardy attempt to take-over Woolleys Beach and exploit Westernport Bay to promote and prolong the burning of LNG, a fossil fuel just as dangerous as coal.

There are numerous reasons why we have no intention of allowing this irresponsible corporation’s plans to harm our precious environment and endanger the health and safety of local communities.

Make a submission or Donate now towards our fighting fund. Your donations will help pay for our own experts to refute the various technical reports and to take on AGL with their limitless resources at the public Hearings for the EES.

~the people sign~rally for Westernport ~POSTPONED

~the people sign~rally for Westernport ~POSTPONED

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Key things for your action now:

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

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

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

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