Re: Westernport and RAMSAR

AGL Employee

Hi @Bob-W 

 

Thank you for taking the time to post and very sorry about the delay in responding. We missed your message when it moved over into this forum.

 

We are sorry to hear you do not feel like we are effectively undertaking community consultation. We have tried to acknowledge the validity of the local concerns and are well aware they exist.  We have held more than 60 public consultation meetings in the local community since 2017 when we first announced the proposed project.

 

We have also been sharing environmental studies online and answering questions received from supporters and opponents.

 

As the feasibility phase of any project advances, it is usual for people within the community to become interested at different stages, as it becomes more relevant to them and despite our earlier efforts, they feel not enough consultation has been done.

 

We agree it is an environmentally sensitive area and are committed to undergoing all the reviews necessary to ensure the proposed project will be safe and environmentally responsible. We want to ensure that the marine environment is not significantly impacted by the proposed facilities and that there are appropriate mitigation mechanisms in place to reduce the potential impacts.

 

The community have also made their concerns known to the government and have been successful in making sure AGL is now assessed independently through an environment effects statement (EES) process. The EES is Victoria’s most rigorous and transparent planning process and we are willing to be held accountable to this process. Once we have completed the full environment assessment required by the government, we will have a better understanding of these potential impacts. The EES will investigate a variety of matters, including the impact the proposed project may have on the marine environment, local environment and greenhouse gas emissions.

 

We will continue to provide opportunities to engage and involve any stakeholders in the assessment process – it will be an ongoing activity. Throughout the EES process there are many opportunities for the community to provide feedback that will be considered in the ongoing refinement of the project design, including construction and operational stages. 

 

We will follow all assessment requirements that are asked of us by the Victorian Government and all regulatory bodies. We are willing to be held to these standards. A final EES assessment is made by the Minister for Planning, not AGL.

 

The project is still in the feasibility study stage, AGL’s Board has yet to decide if the proposed project will go ahead. 

 

We also recognise for many in the community the proposed project has more downside than upside and there is committed opposition. It's rare for any community to want more industrial development, even if it is proposed at an existing industrial site that currently imports petroleum products. We are in a difficult position because our 1.4million customers are also going to be very concerned if we don’t supply them with gas.

   

Australia is a major exporter of natural gas; however, most of this gas is not available to the south-eastern states. It has been a difficult realisation for many that the abundant gas supplies Victoria once enjoyed are in decline. Declining production from Bass Strait’s big legacy fields has meant Victoria needs to seriously consider and prepare for alternative sources of supply.

 

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. Gas supplies from the North West Shelf are not available to Victoria because there is no pipeline across the Nullarbor. 

 

We know there are several environmental concerns that need to be addressed in detail as part of the assessment process, including the impact of chlorine in the Westernport environment.

  

We regularly have AGL staff in the area and would be happy to discuss your specific concerns in greater detail and in person, if you would like?