MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire Council has put off making any decision on its preferred role of the Port of Hastings at least until mid-2022.
Councillors decided at their 24 August meeting that there was no “legal obligation or urgency” for it to decide about the future use of the port.
In doing so, they rejected advice from strategic planning manager Claire Dougall that the shire continue to oppose any dredging in Port Phillip to “accommodate” the state government’s planned container port at Bay West, near Geelong.
As part of its existing opposition to the Bay West plan the shire has asked the state for “certainty” over the future role of the Port of Hastings and for it to release “surplus” land set aside for port development on the peninsula.
Other options for the future of the Port of Hastings recommended for adoption by Ms Dougall including lobbying for it to be developed as a “green port” or give “provisional support” for it to be used for bulk and “break-bulk” trade.
Ms Dougall said whatever decision council made would have no legal standing in regard to the state government’s powers.
“However, adopting a position would strengthen council’s ability to influence future decision-making at all levels of government to help achieve optimal outcomes for the Mornington Peninsula,” she said. “Resolving a final advocacy position should be informed by community feedback. However, the work required to obtain community views is not budgeted or resourced for this financial year.”
In their decision to defer taking a stand on the port until the 2022-23 financial year, councillors said they had received and noted Ms Dougall’s report.
The Save Westernport community group said the shire had admitted that it made no input into the Port of Hastings Development Authority’s 2018 plan.
“Save Westernport would welcome the opportunity for public consultation on the council’s policy on the Port of Hastings, particularly following the rejection this year of the AGL [gas import jetty] proposal on environmental grounds, and in the context of the recent fine awarded against PoHDA” (“Port fined over foreshore clearing” The News 17/8/21).