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 Westernport and in particular, the marine life.
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.
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 scoping requirements).
You can view the scoping requirements on the department’s website here.
We understand that Western Port is a very popular area for recreational fishing. The mooring of the FSRU at the jetty would see a more rigid enforcement of the current exclusion zones for the existing petroleum import operations and would affect some access to the foreshore.
Recreational use of Western Port will be affected only 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. As the FSRU would be moored more than 500m off the shore, access to Woolley’s Beach Reserve is not expected to be affected.
As part of this project, AGL will not be removing mangroves. The preliminary assessments suggest this project will have ‘negligible’ impact on mangroves and other seagrass. However, we are still required to undergo an EES. In the scoping requirements for the EES, the Biodiversity assessment in s.4.2 requires the direct loss of any associated listed threatened flora and fauna species and communities known or likely to occur in or adjacent to the project works.
We are in a difficult position because our customers are also going to be very concerned if we don’t supply them with gas.
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.