THE state government has nominated the Port of Hastings as the best place for a terminal to assemble and from where ship offshore wind farms.
A decision has yet to be made on whether an environmental effects statement (EES) will be required, although the government has been warned that any delays could adversely impact on meeting timelines for its offshore power generation targets.
The planned Victorian Renewable Energy Terminal’s inland buildings and quayside assembly area cover 43 hectares with a 600 metre long by 100 metre wide wharf.
If approved, the terminal will be the largest industrial development at the port for decades.
The Port of Hastings Corporation (PoHC) says the terminal could eventually be used by “other typical seaborn trades and export locally manufactured items”.
The PoHC has submitted its environmental referrals to the state and federal governments for the terminal to be built in Long Island Drive, Hastings between the existing BlueScope steelworks and Esso’s Long Island Point fractionation plant.
However, questions are being raised about the effects on whales, dolphins and birds of both the onshore and offshore works.
The Hastings-based Dolphin Research Centre has met with the PoHC about “the questions that need to be asked”.
“DRI believes in and practices evidence-based decision-making, forming positions based on knowledge to help to understand issues,” executive director Jeff Weir said.
Issues to be addressed once final designs had been made for the terminal included the effects of dredging (and “cascading impacts to adjacent coastlines”); risks to wildlife (including “exotic” species); and treatment of stormwater runoff. There was also a need to know how many ships would be using the terminal and if they would operate day and night.
“What are the implications of light and noise for the local species of all types? What is the noise profile of these ships, and would this be of concern for marine mammals?” Weir said.
He suggested construction of the offshore wind farms be “concentrated outside the main whale migration”.
Noise from turbines and maintenance needed to be investigated “from the point of view of whales and dolphins”. Turbines being hit by birds was also an issue.
“There are lots of other questions that will be addressed for Hastings and offshore as part of the environmental approvals,” Weir said.
The DRI has expanded its Two Bays Whale Project to track whales and dolphins along the Victorian coast.
The land earmarked for the terminal is known as the Old Tyabb Reclamation Area (OTRA) and plans for the terminal include using dredged material to “reclaim” more land.
Todd Trimble, the port’s stakeholder and community relations manager, said the referrals were “an important first step in defining the requirements PoHC will need to meet to receive state and federal government approvals”.
The state government will use the referrals to determine if an EES is required and the federal government to decide if assessment and approval is required under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).
The EES referrals can be viewed at: planning.vic.gov.au/environmental-assessments/browse-projects
More details about the terminal project are at: portofhastings.vic.gov.au