AGL’s application for the environmental assessment of a proposed gas terminal in Westernport Bay opens for public feedback from today, but the project would be a recipe for environmental disaster and disrespectful to the local community, Environment Victoria and Save Westernport said.
“After a summer of weather extremes and fires, now is not the time to be pushing through a new fossil fuel project on Melbourne’s doorstep,” said Victor Komarovsky, Environment Victoria community organiser.
“The EES consultation will make clear what is already obvious to us – that AGL’s proposal risks destroying much of what we love about the Bay, that it’s going to hamper, not help the local economy, and that the vast majority of the local community outright rejects it,”
The groups have also pointed out that but the opportunity for proper public consultation is unfairly limited by COVID-19 restrictions.
Julia Stockigt, spokesperson for local group Save Westernport, said that while the Victorian government has been willing to delay other planning processes owing to COVID restrictions, local community groups are still expected to participate in the complex Environment Effects Statement (EES) process in semi-lockdown.
“40 business days is not enough to properly scrutinise a plan that has taken several years to put together and is thousands of pages long, especially during the coronavirus pandemic that means the opportunity for proper public consultation is severely limited,” said Ms Stockigt.
“Nevertheless this is the public’s best opportunity to have their voices heard by making a submission.”
“No country in the world has ever approved a floating gas terminal like AGL’s close to a residential community, or in an environmentally sensitive wetland protected by international wildlife conventions.”
“What the state government does with one hand, like supporting the endangered orange bellied parrot to make Westernport its home, will be taken away with the other hand if this project is approved.”
“Westernport communities have fought and stopped bad ideas for 50 years. And AGL thought we’d accept a massive gas import terminal on our beach? This community expects better,” said Ms Stockigt.
Victor Komarovsky, Community Organiser
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