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...