Re: AGL's plan to turn Westernport bay into a giant gas import terminal
We understand there are concerns in the community about the impact of this project on Westernport Bay. We are in a difficult position because our customers area also going to be very concerned if we don’t supply them with gas.
While the studies completed to date in the preliminary assessments demonstrate that the impacts to the environment associated with this project will have minimal impact on the environment, an in-depth investigation is being undertaken as part of the Environment Effects Statement.
This was a requirement from the Victorian Government, predominantly because of community concerns around the environmental impact. It is likely that any impact considered ‘catastrophic’ in likelihood and outcome would prevent a project like ours from going ahead.
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 at the 2018 AGM that: ‘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. ‘
There are serious and legitimate concerns with a project like this, such as damage to the wetlands, safety concerns around explosions and any risk of accidental spills. The EES will need to demonstrate whether these can be addressed and mitigated effectively.
Multiple bodies will oversee our conduct and management of risks in the approvals stage and, if it succeeds, during its operation. Appropriate checks will be in place.
The FSRU and visiting LNG carriers will be subject to oversight and regulation by numerous regulators and government agencies, including:
- Australian Maritime Safety Authority
- Transport Safety Victoria
- Marine Safety Victoria
- Office of Transport Safety (Cth)
- Energy Safety Victoria
- WorkSafe Victoria
- Harbour Master
- Victorian Regional Channels Authority
- Port of Hastings Development Authority
The project also must adhere to several legislative requirements, including:
- Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act)
- Environment Effects Act 1978
- Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988
- Victorian Advisory Lists
- Planning and Environment Act 1987
- Mornington Peninsula Planning Scheme
- Guidelines for the removal, destruction or lopping of native vegetation (DELWP 2017a)
- Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994 (CaLP Act)
AGL has yet to make a final decision to fully fund the proposed project. We will follow all assessment requirements deemed necessary by the government and regulatory bodies and are willing to be held to these standards.
If you are interested, we are discussing electricity at this forum topic here.
This topic here discusses greenhouse gas and the need to urgently decarbonise our fleet.
We understand that Western Port is a very popular area for recreational boating and fishing.
Exclusions zones around ships at port are currently 100 m. These exclusion zones currently in place may be adjusted to match the project. We know that some people like to fish near marine facilities as these offer shelter to fish and can stir up nutrients, but for security reasons these exclusion zones will need to be enforced.
The facility will have a shipping exclusion zone around the facility enforced 24 hours a day, and this will impact the current practice of sitting outside the Crib Point markers and casting in towards the jetty.
Recreational use of Western Port will be affected when LNG tankers are berthing. At those times through traffic will be restricted to allow tugs to safely berth LNG carriers but this already occurs when ships visit the United Energy, Bluescope and Esso facilities. If yachts are racing during berthing, these races may also be temporarily delayed but the Port of Hastings Development Authority publishes the schedules in advance on its website.
As the FSRU would be moored more than 500 m off the shore, there are no plans to restrict access to Woolley’s Beach Reserve. The onshore area will have security fence erected around it with CCTV cameras so the little short cut that exists on the north side of the land now will be closed off, however beach access will be maintained via the track to the submarine look out point.
The Port of Hastings Development Authority is looking at whether there will need to be a setback distance from LNG tankers as they enter but otherwise the same rules on right of way that apply now will continue.
Access at boat ramps around Western Port are not affected.
Please let us know if you have any follow up questions.