THREATS to the sustainability of Western Port’s ecosystem and its international importance as a destination for migratory birds have led to the federal government knocking back plans for a terminal to assemble wind turbines at Hastings.
The announcement by Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek on 18 December will be a blow to the state government which allocated $27 million in its 2023/24 budget for the offshore wind turbines to be built at Hastings.
However, the state and the Port of Hastings Corporation had acknowledge the need for an environmental effects statement (EES) process before the terminal could be built.
Plibersek said the terminal as planned was “clearly unacceptable” because of “irreversible damage” Western Port’s wetlands caused by dredging “and movements of sediments and nutrients that in turn will impact the food webs of the mudflats and coastal area”.
Flinders MP Zoe McKenzie said the federal government’s decision had not come as a surprise.
“The Mornington Peninsula and Western Port Biosphere Reserve is one of just three in Australia,” she said.
“The proposed terminal would have involved dredging, reclaimed land, and an enormous impact on the landscape – both visually and environmentally.”
The state opposition says the federal government’s veto of the project to assemble wind turbines for the “energy farms” planned about 20 kilometres off the South Gippsland coast will lead to “even higher energy prices”.
“This is a debacle and Victoria’s offshore wind policy is now in tatters – meaning higher energy prices for Victorians at a time they can least afford it,” Shadow Minister for Energy, Energy Affordability and Security, David Davis, said.
“Victoria’s offshore wind policy is now back to square one. How did Victoria, and specifically the Energy Minister, Lily D’Ambrosio, not see this coming?”
The state government had previously said the terminal would be built at the Old Tyabb Reclamation Area and be equipped “for the receival, assembly and installation of offshore wind foundations, towers and turbines as a multi-user facility, with new berths, heavy duty pavements and major supporting infrastructure” (Time is tight for terminal comment, The News 18/10/23).
The PoHC 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 (Terminal delay could hit power targets, The News 21/8/23).
Stakeholder and community relations manager Todd Trimble said the terminal “will deliver critical port capacity to meet Victoria’s offshore wind targets…”
“Offshore wind assembly places unique heavy-duty operational requirement on ports, including significant land area adjacent to available berths, pavement strength and channel capacity. There is currently no port in Australia that can facilitate offshore wind assembly,” he said.