COMMUNITY group Save Westernport says details of power company AGL’s plans for a gas import terminal at Crib Point have “proven correct the fears of Mornington Peninsula residents”.
With just one week left to make a submission, members of the community group have been studying the 10,000-page environment effects statement prepared by AGL for the proposed gas import jetty and pipeline project.
The group says it is “discovering dozens of shocking new threats and impacts that have been released to the public for the first time”.
“The extent of information that appears to have been kept back is alarming, with loss of amenity and traffic noise, emissions and congestion now added to the growing list of disastrous impacts that are buried among the volumes of reports,” Julia Stockigt of Save Westernport said.
“According to AGL, 900 tanker trucks carrying liquid nitrogen would need to travel along Peninsula Link, Coolart and Frankston-Flinders roads and through the town of Crib Point each year if their gas import project is approved. A further fleet would deliver flammable LNG treatment chemicals to the site at Woolleys Beach, in a known bushfire zone”
The rush to prepare objections to AGL’s plan follows the refusal by Planning Minister Richard Wynne to postpone or extend the EES process until after the COVID-19 crisis.
Mr Wynne said any further delay would “introduce severe procedural uncertainty” and “add to … the stresses for all parties”. He said that “on balance” the benefits of a pause did not “outweigh the disadvantages”.
His refusal to add extra time for submissions (deadline 26 August) or postpone the October hearing by Planning Panels Victoria has been criticised by all levels of government and community groups.
Mornington Peninsula Shire councillors are this week expected to reaffirm their opposition to AGL’s plans “as the project poses unacceptable impacts and associated risks across a range of areas”. The shire is holding an online “community session” on Wednesday (19 August) to explain its position and provide information “to help residents have their say on the project”.
Flinders MP Greg Hunt said he was “deeply disappointed” by Mr Wynne’s decision but would continue to fight against the project.
“My long held view remains against the proposed AGL project and the re-industrialisation of Crib Point generally,” Mr Hunt said.
“There are much more appropriate gas projects under consideration, such as in Port Kembla NSW. I continue to urge the Victorian government to listen to the community and allow for appropriate time for review of this project.”
Mr Hunt’s state Liberal colleague, Hastings MP Neale Burgess, said it was unfair that AGL had two years to prepare is EES and “then a community placed in strict lockdown conditions has only been given 40 business days to respond”.
Environmental Justice Australia says the public exhibition of the EES should be extended because the COVID-19 restrictions “curtail the public’s ability to engage or adequately prepare for the public hearings”.
Ms Stockigt said AGL also planned to stop public access to Woolleys Beach Foreshore Reserve.
“The quiet, shady public reserve is a popular place for a barbecue, launch a kayak or walk the dog,” she said.
Ms Stockigt said “other alarming EES discoveries” included the high noise levels from a pumping station that, according to AGL could lead to residents experiencing “reduced satisfaction with their residential amenity”, plans to build 20 metre high tanks to store nitrogen and other chemicals, the creation of few long term jobs except 40 technical jobs on the floating gas terminal.