A splashing, paddling protest


SUNDAY may not have been the summer’s best beach day, but that did not deter hundreds of people going to the Pines Beach, Shoreham.

Instead of sunning themselves, swimming or going for a surf, the beachgoers were intent on sending the state and federal governments a message: don’t allow power company AGL to moor a floating gas import and processing terminal at Crib Point.

Serious concerns about the health and safety aspects of the proposed terminal underlined the festive atmosphere on the beach where protesters were fed information about the 300-metre long “gas factory” along with barbecued food and live entertainment.

In the water a variety of floating craft – surfboards, stand up paddle boards, boogie boards, canoes, surf skis and a couple of boats – were maneuvered into a heart shape to symbolise the protesters love for Western Port.

“Australia leads the world in gas exportation so we shouldn’t be risking an internationally recognised site and critical wetland like Western Port to import gas. There are better solutions,” organiser of the “Peninsula’s biggest paddle out” Hinetera Marino said.

“This misguided project would threaten the bay’s priceless environmental diversity, including sensitive [internationally recognised] Ramsar wetlands as well as it’s many amenities for residents and visitors to the area.”

Save Westernport’s spokesperson Louise Page said past community action had made “a remarkable difference” to the health of the bay.

“Whales and dolphins are returning in record numbers; there are more and healthier fish species; mangroves are regenerating; water bird counts are way up; water clarity is improving, and the seagrass beds are growing back,” Ms Page said.

“We love this place and we’ll do what it takes to protect it.

“The Mornington Peninsula is famous for beaches, food, wine, and for being a clean and green destination.

“It’s an enviable reputation and we want it to stay that way.”

AGL announced four days before Christmas that it had “executed a contract for the supply of a floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU) for its proposed gas import Jetty project at Crib Point”. The company said the long-term charter agreement was “conditional on a final investment decision and regulatory approvals.

“These FRSUs are highly sophisticated in nature with a range of monitoring functions and protections in place for safe and reliable operations, making them ideal for the project,´ AGL general manager energy supply and origination, Phaedra Deckart, said.

Ms Deckart said the AGL believed its plan for Crib Point “will increase certainty around [gas] supply and put downward pressure on prices”.

First published in the Western Port News – 9 January 2019


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