MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire last followed the state Opposition in reinforcing opposition to power company AGL’s plan for a gas import terminal at Crib Point.
The Opposition’s resources spokesperson Ryan Smith on Monday last week said the decision was based on supporting “local residents”, “serious environmental concerns” about the route of a proposed pipeline to Pakenham and because “the legally recognised indigenous traditional owner group opposes the project” (“Opposition against AGL gas terminal” The News 10/2/21).
One day later, Mornington Peninsula Shire issued a news release “welcoming” the Opposition’s stand.
“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,” the shire stated in a news release headed “Opposition to AGL Crib Point gas project mounts”.
The shire’s reasons for opposing the gas terminal were also in accord with those listed by the Opposition: “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.”
It said a poll conducted on social media last August “attracted more than 2000 responses, with an overwhelming 93 per cent of respondents against the proposal”.
Community group Save Westernport said it was “heartened” by the Opposition’s “surprise announcement”.
“We’re particularly encouraged that our community’s opposition to AGL in Western Port, and the Bunurong Land Council’s views have been heard,” Save Westernport stated.
“The overwhelming rejection of AGL’s plans has been a common response to the compelling evidence of countless unacceptable risks revealed during the recent EES hearings.”
The group wants state Opposition MPs and Flinders MP Greg Hunt “to make sure … [federal] Environment Minister Sussan Ley understands the full extent of the risks of AGL’s proposal”.
Environment Victoria CEO Jono La Nauze said the “Victorian Liberal Nationals have now joined a chorus of diverse groups against AGL’s project including three local councils, fishing businesses, the tourism industry, conservation groups, the traditional owners and local federal MP Greg Hunt”.
Hastings Liberal MP Neale Burgess has previously said he did not believe the gas project “should ever have been considered for Crib Point, as it will just serve to once again, encourage thinking of this beautiful area as a potential location for toxic industrial development”.
The statement issued by Mr Ryan is the strongest support yet that the Opposition has given to Mr Burgess.
Mr Ryan said the state government’s moratorium on gas exploration and development had left Victoria short of supply and with rising gas prices.
He quoted Bass Coast Shire Council as saying, “the project has the potential for serious impacts on the marine environment and biodiversity of Western Port”.
He said Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation “damningly found” that construction plans for the terminal and the 56km pipeline to Pakenham “do not attempt to avoid harm and do not sufficiently minimise harm to Aboriginal cultural heritage and have not met the requirement under the Environment Effects Act 1978”.
Mr Ryan said any jobs created by the terminal “would require specific skills and likely be filled from within AGL’s existing workforce”.