Can you guarantee there will be no damage to the Ramsar-listed wetlands of Westernport Bay? Considering that Victoria is already a net exporter of gas, could you explain why have you chosen a Ramsar-listed wetland site as the preferred location for this project? Has AGL considered alternatives to your destructive gas import terminal? For example, have you looked at how to reduce the need for gas through efficiency upgrades and switching to electricity where possible? Or using existing pipeline capacity for bringing gas into Victoria?
I too am very concerned about the possible damaging effects of a large industrial development on the site of a Ramsar-listed wetland. I have been a bird watcher for years, and know that thousands of water and shore birds, many of them endangered or near threatened, use these wetlands as essential habitat.
Is it possible for AGL to guarantee that this proposed site will not adversely affect this critical habitat?
I am also very worried about damage to Western Post bay wetlands and the damage from ships going past Philip Island that is home to seals, penguins and twice a year visits from whales, how are the ships not going to damage the environment too?
Hi Diana-S, @Jan1
We understand your concerns about the impact this development may have on the environment and specifically water and shore birds in the environmentally significant area of Western Port.
One of the reasons we chose the site was that Crib Point has an existing jetty that is already in commercial use.
Crib Point has in-built flexibility because unlike a coal fired power station, which takes seven or eight years to build and leaves a lasting imprint, Crib Point will host a FSRU which will receive gas from the most competitive source via a jetty which has been there for 50 years. If the demand for gas reduces, we can bring in less gas. The FSRU is likely to be leased and if the facility is no longer needed the FSRU will be unmoored and will sail away.
It is impossible to guarantee, and we realise for many in the community, this is not good enough. The Victorian Government has required us to undergo an Environment Effects Statement to assess the potential effects of the project on the environment and assess alternatives to avoid and mitigate effects.
The Minister for Planning Richard Wynne said “The EES will investigate the proposal’s effects on native vegetation, wildlife and marine life as well as Aboriginal cultural heritage areas.” Within this, the potential impact this project will have on threatened and migratory species will be assessed (See s4.2 of the EES scoping requirements here)
We are very aware Western Port is an environmentally sensitive area.
We understand the community is very concerned about seals, penguins and whales in Crib Point and the wider bay area. This was frequently mentioned in conversations we have with the community.
The community has been successful in communicating their concerns to government with the Minister for Planning requiring AGL (with APA) to undertake an Environment Effects Statement.
These concerns will be addressed in greater detail as part of the biodiversity report
Further to our discussion earlier, we thought you may want some more information that we have supplied other members of this discussion forum.
We agree Western Port is an important environmental asset that must be cared for and recognise the strongly held community views about the unique environmental significance of Western Port as a Ramsar site.
Over 80 per cent of electricity produced in Australia is sourced from the combustion of fossil fuels. Given its sheer scale, decarbonising the generation sector is likely to take several decades of replacing the existing generation fleet with low-emissions substitute technology such as solar and windfarms.
To deliver reliable and sustainable energy at the lowest cost possible requires renewable energy from wind and solar combined with more flexible energy sources, like quick-start gas generation, that can be turned on whenever renewables are not available.
While we undertake this transition, the Gas Import Jetty will be used to provide a reliable and secure supply of gas for quick-start gas powered electricity generation which, in turn, is needed to enable a cost-effective energy transition to occur, both for AGL, and for the Australian electricity sector.
Even if the supply of gas from unconventional fields in Queensland was available to the pipeline connecting them with Victoria, Victoria would not be able to supply enough during peak winter gas demand due to the limited capacity of the pipeline. Pipeline capacity constraints and the lead times of new gas production underpin the proposals for LNG imports. Existing pipelines are unable to support more gas flows from supply-rich Queensland to south-eastern Australia where it is needed. Gas supplies from the North West Shelf are not available to Victoria because there is no pipeline across the Nullarbor.
We understand your concerns around the selection of Crib Point, particularly with its environmental significance. It was not a decision we undertook lightly. We investigated several different sites across Australia, including Crib Point in Victoria, Port Adelaide in South Australia and Port Kembla in New South Wales. The evaluation process considered several factors including access to key gas markets, cost of incremental pipeline transmission, availability of suitable land for onshore facilities, cost of existing or new build pipelines, existing investments within AGL’s wholesale gas portfolio and marine and port suitability.
Our final decision was between Western Port and Hastings. Hastings required the construction of a new jetty as existing facilities are currently in use by other businesses. The construction of this jetty would have significant environmental impacts including deep dredging. To accommodate an FSRU substantial dredging would have been required. Declared depths are between 5 and 10m north of Bluescope. We require minimum 13m.