The Inquiry and Advisory Committee Hearings have begun!

October 12th, was Day One of the EES Hearing into AGL’s Gas Import proposal in Westernport Bay.

Summary of Day One by Save Westernport’s Chris Atmore

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AGL and APA have made some changes to various key documents. We can expect to see more of this as the Hearing progresses.
Tomorrow the IAC will hear from most of the other main parties, including the Environment Protection Authority, Mornington Peninsula, Bass and Cardinia Shire Councils, and Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation.
At 3.15pm our barristers will present the Opening Submission on behalf of Environment Victoria, Save Westernport and Victorian National Parks Association.

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

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

If you require technical assistance, ring 03 9078 9726