Westernport has unique RAMSAR listed wetlands, seagrasses and mangroves which support fragile ecologies where rare wading birds and marine life breed. Is AGL aware of the critical importance of mangroves and zostra and other seagrasses as fish nurseries and sequesters of CO2? The Crib Point strand of mangroves represents some of the most southern extents of mangroves in the world.
Are any mangroves to be removed?
What are the consequences of types of spills possible from this operation on delicate mangrove and seagrass ecosystems and carried by current/waves from the proposed location. What protections and guarantees are being included?
Is AGL going to do the right thing and offset any mangove and seagrass damage/loss with restoration so that fish stocks,breeding and coastal endangered bird populations are guaranteed survival at current or better populations levels and no loss of migration rest sites and flyways.What bond restoration facilites and compensation fund is AGL setting up to demonstrate respect and integrity for sensitive ecosystems axposed to it massive intrusion?
Mr Mauricio personally I think the 'right thing' for AGL to do is to abandon the proposal to ensure the protection of our Ramsar Listed Wetland Westerport Bay for us, our children and our children's children. Offsets are pretty much closing the gate after the horse has bolted.When damage has been done to a sensitive, unique environment no amount of offsets can ever repair what is lost.
I agree that the mangroves and other sea grasses that are home to unique and fragile eco system will have no hope against huge gas holding ships passing through, the only hope is for the gas port to be abandoned.
We are aware there is significant community concern around the potential impact our project will have on seagrasses and mangroves and acknowledge these are of environmental significance. The combination of the mangroves, seagrass and wildlife in Western Port make it a very valuable marine ecosystem both in Australia and internationally. Western Port is an important environmental asset that must be cared for.
As part of this project, AGL will not be removing mangroves. One of the reasons we were attracted to this location was that Crib Point has an existing jetty already in commercial use. The jetty was built in the 1960s by the petroleum industry to help fulfil Victoria’s needs and is still used to bring petroleum into Victoria.
Earlier expert reports from CEE stated that there would be ‘negligible effect on seagrasses and mangroves.’
The report also found:
‘Benthic habitats in water depths less than less than 12.5 m of the Ramsar area will be unaffected by the direct effects of the seawater heat exchange discharge from the FSRU operation. These unaffected habitats include intertidal saltmarsh, mangroves, seagrass and mudflat habitats, which are valuable foraging and roosting habitats for waterbirds. Subtidal seagrass and shallow, bare seabed habitats in the Ramsar area will also be unaffected by direct effects’
LNG ships typically use natural gas from their own cargo in their engines, unlike most ships that burn heavy oil in their engines, the risk of a major oil spill is lower. In the event of an incident, we do have significant insurance in place – this is clearly a last resort. To even consider this project, we must plan for any possible failures (the worst case scenarios) assuming they could happen no matter how unlikely.
As our Chairman stated in 2018 ‘Until this company and all companies can get to a position where they have zero incidents in environmental safety or whatever they're not doing a good enough job. ‘
We are also looking into how we can support the research effort of the unique Western Port environment.
However, we are being careful to consider, identify and carefully manage all environmental risks.
This does not mean the investigation will end here. The community have made their concerns known to the government and they have been successful in making sure they are now assessed independently through an Environment Effects Statement (EES) process. These risks are being further investigated through the EES process.
In the scoping requirements for the EES, the Biodiversity assessment in s.4.2 requires the direct and indirect loss of vegetation to be assessed as well as the direct loss of, or degradation to, habitat for flora and fauna species listed as threatened or migratory under the EPBC Act, FFG Act and/or DELWP advisory lists.
In s4.6 of the scoping requirements, a key issue required to be assessed is the ‘potential for unplanned spills of product or other pollutants including bilge or ballast water that could contain exotic organisms.’
Offsets will also be assessed as part of this process.
The EES will be made publicly available and you will be able to make a written submission on the EES during the exhibition period.
You can view the EES scoping requirements here: https://www.planning.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0031/409936/Att-1_Crib-Point-EES-scoping-requ...
Hi @KerryRainer. We agree offsets are never as good as the real thing. We are very aware of local concerns about the potential impacts of the project. We fully recognise these concerns and the strongly held views about the unique environmental significance of Western Port. We are in a difficult position because our customers area also going to be very concerned if we don’t supply them with gas.
Others in the community have also made their concerns known to the government and they have been successful in making sure they are now assessed independently through an environment effects statement (EES) process.
We will follow all assessment requirements deemed necessary by the government and regulatory bodies and are willing to be held to these standards.
The AGL Board have also yet to make a decision to fully fund the proposed project.
Thank you for your comment @sunflower. We are looking into the impact of increased shipping in the area. In the last five years the Port of Hastings has hosted an average of 142 vessels each year for a range of activities.
As part of the Environment Effects Statement (EES) under s.4.2 a key issue for assessment is the ‘potential for impacts resulting from increased shipping activity on cetaceans and other large marine animals, including acoustic impacts and potential collisions.’ As we progress through the EES process we will be able to provide you with more information on this. The reports will be made publicly available on our website and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning's website.
And that is 142 ships too much already, why add to the problem? These ships are doing damage to the environment, disturbing the unique wildlife of Phillip Island and Westernport. Will the port be upgraded to even cause more damage? What other ports have been considered that are not so fragile as Westernport?
Regarding the number of visiting import/export ships to Western Port Bay each year, here are the actual numbers by year:
2013/14 - 55
2014/15 - 72
2015/16 - 111
2016/17 - 100
2017/18 - 95
You can visit the Port of Hastings website to confirm these ship numbers.
(Figures may not include maintenance vessels)
We asked the Port of Hastings Development Authority to look into the discrepancy between the number of vessels we received and those you provided from their website.
They assured us that both are accurate. The number on their website is from the Port of Hastings Development Authority’s annual report and only includes import/export ships. The numbers provided to us by the Port includes cruise vessels and other non-cargo carrying vessels.
The 142 ships we quoted was an average of the past five years:
2013 - 2014 131
2014 - 2015 163
2015 - 2016 167
2016 - 2017 128
2017 - 2018 125
We hope this clears up the discrepancy. Thank you for highlighting this issue to us.
Thank you for your reply @ElissaM I do not understand part of your answer, could you please explain to me what you mean when you said "We are in a difficult position because our customers area also going to be very concerned if we don’t supply them with gas." ?