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

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 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!

 

Westernport Bay – BR Sallmann

Westernport Bay – BR Sallmann

My relationship with Westernport bay is that it has functioned as a compass since moving to the peninsula with my family when I was eight years old. It started at its southern entrance – Flinders ocean beach – where one day I found myself crunched up in the shallows in winter, starting to question my conviction that moving to the beach from the city meant I absolutely needed to swim in the ocean every single day.

My addiction to the coast has since softened as I have moved further north along the bay, however I am becoming increasingly aware that if I found myself living inland in the future, tucked away from the coast, something would be missing. I am too well-adjusted to that salty taste, and the crisp southern air, and the grits of sand that constantly pepper my carpet and stick to my toes. Yet amidst the ongoing refusal by myself and likeminded others to allow AGL’s commoditisation of the bay, I find myself wondering if I could even stand to see the waterline at all, polluted with the money-man’s toys.

Running along the bay at sunrise has been a consistent habit of mine for years and knowing how easily I’d give that up if the proposal went ahead shows me how deeply disturbing AGL’s idealised reality would be. Even for those with a merely superficial connection to the bay – those who overlook it from wealthy clifftops and see the bay primarily as an asset – stand to lose their money to the pockets of the powerful.

Every ship would represent a failure – for us, for the wildlife, for the future of energy production and power division – to win a fight that should never have taken place at all. I refuse to lose to an opponent who fights in blatantly corrupt and manipulative ways. I refuse to lose upon a land rich in the potential for sustainable energy production to an archaic and toxic exploitation of finite resources. I refuse to accept the decisions of those who favour the whip of fast cash over what is ethical, and healthy, and compassionate, and sustainable. And those inside and outside of the community who choose inaction, whose failure to become angry and question what they are told represents the easiest form of compliance.

I am only twenty-five, I do not own land here nor pay rates. I do not feel any sense of ownership over the bay or feel pulled to the cause by any sense of personal affront that I could lose my beach, as it is not mine, nor yours, nor (and especially), business dealers and money makers. I do, however, feel a responsibility to speak up for it. Like all other natural environments, Westernport bay is a collective space that deserves respect. It gives life and takes nothing from us in return. It serves as a lesson to us that greed does not perpetuate infinite resources, but that the bay too, can suffer and become weak if we take too much.

We need to learn to tread lightly and protect our generous environment from those who do not.

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 

 

 

Reflections- Growing up in Somers ~ by Sue Byrne

Reflections- Growing up in Somers ~ by Sue Byrne

Three generations of our family have lived in Somers. Pa, Ron Stone, built the General Store in 1927. Mum and her brothers grew up there and we grew up across the road.

Growing up in Somers on Westernport Bay was wonderful. Dirt roads, a few cars and
a small population. Families became extended families, looking out for each other.

As kids we explored the bush and beach, the rockpools and sea life. I learnt to swim in the bay with aunty Bren holding my waist, telling me to kick and float as waves washed over us. Terrifying at first but I grew to love swimming and the sea.

We enjoyed family picnics on the beach especially during warm still evenings after closing the store. The dads enjoyed spotlight fishing. We were allowed to go occasionally. Garfish were the main fish caught, (so many bones!).

The summers were a buzz with visitors, and new friends to play with at the beach; water-skiing, sailing, swimming, snorkelling, paddle boarding etc. We rolled down sand dunes and built cubbies in the bush. We were blessed to see dolphins silently cruising and joyfully playing with humans and dogs.

We’ve watched the changes to the beach landscape; erosion, shifting sands, rock walls and groins.

As we drift off to sleep, the sound of waves lashing or lapping on the shore is very soothing.

The bay is abundant with sea creatures and birdlife. There was much to learn. We also learnt to respect the bay and her moods.

It would be so devastating to have AGL interrupt the serenity and pristine eco system of Westernport Bay with such huge infrastructure and commercial destruction.

I pray they stay away.

~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

World Wetlands Day 2020

World Wetlands Day 2020

Today is World Wetlands Day and Save Westernport celebrates all things wetlands as one of the most precious ecosystems on our planet.

We must all do everything we can to protect, preserve and enhance our wonderful wetlands.

On this day we call out to everyone to ensure no more wetlands are threatened and to ensure that proposed threats like the AGL Floating gas plant at Crib Point in Westernport bay are rejected.

Tell AGL you do not support their plans, tell your local Member of Parliament and tell your friends to boycott AGL.

Sign our Petition

Sign the pledge to boycott AGL

Celebrate our wetlands

Stop AGL Westernport Summer Action Launch

Stop AGL Westernport Summer Action Launch

Come to our
Stop AGL
Westernport Summer
Action Launch!

Join us at Somers Hall for afternoon tea
with others who care about
our precious and unique Westernport environment. 

Westernport needs you! 

Find out about our campaign to protect
the Bay’s Internationally recognized wetlands,
its spectacular creatures and ecosystems
from the threat of AGL’s heavy industry.

Sunday December 1st, 2019

2-4pm 

afternoon tea

Somers Hall, RW Stone Pavilion,
68 Camp Hill Road
Somers

                                        *Please Note the 2pm start time, not Midday as reported elsewhere*