More than 10,000 people have made submissions about AGL’s proposed gas terminal in Westernport Bay, setting a new Victorian record for an environmental assessment process.
“With this extraordinary level of concern about the environmental impact of AGL’s plan, it’s clear locals don’t want this polluting gas terminal going ahead,” said Environment Victoria Campaigns Manager Dr Nicholas Aberle.
The submissions add to opposition from three local councils, resident groups, fishing organisations and businesses, environment groups and local MP Greg Hunt, who recently called for the Environment Effects Statement (EES) process to be paused due to the stage four lockdown.
When the Victorian Planning Minister refused and instead encouraged the community to adapt through ‘innovative use of technology’, Environment Victoria built an online tool to help local residents create a first draft of their submission. The tool was shared on social media to a total of 1.9 million followers, according to social media monitoring service CrowdTangle.
“The fact a government submission process could go viral shows just how many locals are opposed to this polluting project going ahead,” Dr Aberle said.
Analysis by Environment Victoria reveals AGL’s environment effects statement fails to justify the need for the gas terminal, overlooks alternatives to reduce gas or source it elsewhere, and raises alarming concerns about the environmental impact on an internationally recognised wetland.
“A major concern is gas supplied through the terminal would create up to eight million tonnes of carbon pollution, which is more than seven percent of Victoria’s current emissions,” said Dr Aberle.
“Gas is a polluting and expensive fuel. A better alternative is reducing the amount of gas we use in households.”
Candy Spender van Rood, a local resident and member of the community organisation Save Westernport, said generations of people have worked hard to protect Westernport Bay from inappropriate industrial projects.
“AGL’s gas plan threatens our Bay with toxic wastewater, and the risk of ships striking whales, or running aground and spilling diesel with catastrophic consequences. We won’t let that happen,” she said.
“They’ve treated the community with disrespect. AGL took a full two years to write its 11,000 page report on the environmental effects of its gas project. And then its CEO called for the approvals process to be fast-tracked. We had just forty days to have our say while under lockdown.”
The previous record for most submissions to a Victorian EES was the Mornington Safe Harbour project with 2018 submissions.
Environment Victoria Media and Content Manager, Greg Foyster
Ph: 0410879031 E: [email protected]