Opposition to AGL Crib Point gas project mounts

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Mornington Peninsula Shire Council welcomes yesterday’s announcement by the Victorian Liberal Nationals that they oppose AGL’s plan to build a gas import jetty and pipeline at Crib Point.

With State Planning Minister Richard Wynne due to make a final decision by the end of March on whether to approve the proposal, Council has joined the State Opposition’s call for the project to be rejected.

Council’s strong opposition to the gas project reflects widespread community concern about its potential impacts on the environment, climate change, local amenity and indigenous cultural heritage.

A Shire Facebook poll in August last year asking community members whether they supported the gas project attracted more than 2000 responses, with an overwhelming 93 per cent of respondents against the proposal.

Council’s key areas of concern relate to:

  • Greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, including unsatisfactory accounting of emissions from the project and a lack of offsets for those emissions that are identified
  • Marine ecology and biodiversity, including impacts on the world-renowned Western Port Bay Ramsar wetlands and UNESCO biosphere
  • Terrestrial ecology and biodiversity, including loss of over 15 hectares of native vegetation and potential impacts on endangered flora and fauna, including globally threatened species
  • Groundwater, including potential impacts on aquifers and groundwater dependent ecosystems
  • Amenity, particularly noise impacts on nearby residents during construction and operation
  • Transport and traffic impacts to the local road network
  • Negative impacts on local and regional tourism
  • Threats to Indigenous cultural heritage values.

Council found the Environmental Effects Statement (EES) prepared by the proponent last year lacked a credible risk analysis and did not demonstrate best practice environmental management.

Council is also concerned the EES falls short of demonstrating that the project’s potentially significant environmental impacts can be acceptably managed, and fails to show the community will be better off overall.

Council’s submission to the State Government regarding the EES can be viewed here: www.mornpen.vic.gov.au/AGLgasimportjetty

Quotes attributable to Mayor Councillor Despi O’Connor:

“This project poses an unacceptable risk to the environment for no community benefit. It represents a backwards step in terms of emissions reduction and the need to transition to renewable energy.”

“With the State Opposition now coming out strongly against this proposal, along with Cardinia and Bass Coast councils, there is overwhelming opposition to this proposal from all quarters.”

“We call on Minister Wynne to reject this risky proposal, which no one in the community wants.”

Quotes attributable to Cr Lisa Dixon:

“Western Port Bay is truly special, with a wealth of local, national and internationally significant natural resources and environmental values. We cannot take risks with its future.”

“Both Crib Point and Hastings are historic coastal townships with strong links to the bay and foreshore. If this project goes ahead, it will have a significant negative impact on both townships.”

Background:

The Crib Point Gas Import Jetty and Pipeline Project is proposed by AGL and APA Group to increase the supply of natural gas to south-eastern Australia.

The proposal includes:

  • Mooring a floating storage and regasification unit at Crib Point Jetty, which will convert imported liquid natural gas (LNG) to a gaseous state
  • Constructing a new above ground receiving facility on land next to the Crib Point Jetty to receive the gas from the floating storage and regasification unit
  • Constructing a 57-kilometre high-pressure gas pipeline from the receiving facility at Crib Point to Pakenham, to enable the gas to be distributed throughout Victoria and south-east Australia.

At the direction of the Victorian Minister for Planning, AGL and APA Group prepared an Environment Effects Statement (EES) for the project. The EES detailed the range of potential impacts during construction and operation, and how the proponents intended to avoid, mitigate or manage these impacts.

The State Government put the EES and associated documentation on public exhibition in August last year. An independent Inquiry and Advisory Committee was subsequently appointed to hear submissions and is due to deliver its final report to the State Government by February 22. Planning Minister Richard Wynne must deliver his assessment of the project within 25 business days of receiving the report.

It is important to note that Mornington Peninsula Shire Council does not have any decision-making powers with respect to this project. The decision on whether to approve the proposal rests with the State and Federal Governments.

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