The Westernport Bay community is celebrating today after Victorian Planning Minister Richard Wynne rejected a proposed gas import terminal at Crib Point.
The controversial project faced sustained and overwhelming opposition from a broad alliance of groups, including fishing businesses, the tourism industry, environment groups and local MPs.
Save Westernport spokesperson Jane Carnegie said: “Science and good sense has won out. The government has listened to us and to the thousands of people in our community who have worked tirelessly to save our beautiful environment from a potential catastrophe.”
“Westernport Bay was never the place for such a monstrous, environmentally damaging project.
“AGL’s idea for a floating, hazardous gas factory in an internationally significant wetland should never have made it off the drawing board, let alone taken three years of relentless community opposition to save a bay that belongs to all Victorians.
“Save Westernport hopes this decision paves the way for greater environmental protections over Westernport and we look forward to working with the Andrews government to make that happen.
“Minister Wynne’s findings are a clear direction to other decision makers that AGL’s project poses unacceptable impacts to Westernport and the Ramsar wetlands, and should be rejected.”
Environment Victoria CEO Jono La Nauze said: “We congratulate the Andrews government on listening to the community and the science and rejecting this polluting and completely inappropriate development for Westernport Bay.”
“Gas is a polluting fossil fuel and a major cause of the climate crisis. The gas imported through this terminal would have created more than eight million tonnes of carbon pollution – that’s about 7 percent of Victoria’s current annual emissions.
“In its latest budget, the Andrews government paved the way for Victorian to wean itself off expensive, polluting gas with a groundbreaking program to help households switch from gas to efficient electric appliances for heating and cooling. This is exactly the right direction for Victoria’s energy policy.”
Victorian National Parks Association nature campaigner Shannon Hurley said: “The VNPA welcomes this historic decision to protect Westernport’s incredible wildlife haven.
“This is a win for the dolphins, penguins, and wetland habitats that call Westernport home, and for Victorians who enjoy recreation in this wonderful nature playground.”
Phillip Island Conservation Society president Jeff Nottle said: “This is excellent news for Phillip Island’s economy, environment, eco-tourism income and local jobs.
“Our economy is dependent on a healthy environment. AGL’s plan would have ruined the reputation of Westernport Bay, costing the local tourism industry tens of millions of dollars in lost visitor expenditure.”
Westernport & Peninsula Protection Council Secretary Karri Giles said: “WPPC welcomes Minister Wynne’s decision to disallow AGL’s proposal to import gas at Crib Pt and pipe it to Pakenham. We had a chance to save Woolleys Cove, an important fish and squid nursery, and we took it. We stood up against the building of the pipeline with a 171 hectare footprint. Congratulations to all supporters.”
French Island Community Association secretary Linda Bowden said: “French Islanders have consistently opposed this project since its announcement and today we are very relieved that the Minister has listened to the overwhelming community outcry and will act to protect the fragile ecology of the Bay for the wildlife it supports, the community that loves it and the sustainable businesses that rely on its health.”
Source: Environment Victoria