AGL Energy and APA Group have been rejected by the Victorian Government for their proposed gas import terminal at Crib Point and construction of a pipeline from the terminal to Pakenham.
Victorian Minister for Planning Richard Wynne concluded that marine discharges from the proposed project would have unacceptable effects on the environment in Western Port, which is listed as a Ramsar wetland of international significance.
The decision is based on an environment effects statement (EES) produced by AGL and APA, around 6000 public submissions and a report into the findings of the statement by an independent Inquiry and Advisory Committee (IAC).
In October 2018, Wynne decided an EES was required for the proposal due to its potential for environmental effects, particularly on biodiversity – as well as social, amenity, heritage and other values.
The Minister also appointed the IAC to review the EES and consider submissions. A public hearing on the proposal was held by the IAC over 10 weeks from October to December 2020, with the IAC submitting its report in late February 2021.
“This has been an exhaustive, open and transparent process and this is the right outcome for the local community, the environment and Victoria as a whole,” Wynne said.
“It’s very clear to me that this project would cause unacceptable impacts on the Western Port environment and the Ramsar wetlands – it’s important that these areas are protected.”
AGL has advised that it is now reviewing and considering its position in relations to the Minister’s determination.
“An update in relation to the impact on the project will be provided once this assessment is complete,” AGL outlined in a statement.
AGL estimates that total committed or incurred expenditure on the project to date is $130 million, compared with the committed or incurred expenditure of $102 million noted in its ASX release of June 12, 2018.
In February this year, the Liberal National opposition in Victoria vowed to stop AGL’s Crib Point development if elected to government later this year.
Outlined in EnergyQuest’s monthly LNG report, Shadow Minister for Energy and Resources Ryan Smith said the opposition was against an import terminal due to community backlash.
Smith stated the project was not the answer to solving rising gas shortages on the east coast. He further outlined that the government should lift the moratorium imposed on onshore gas exploration.
Save Westernport spokesperson Jane Carnegie said the Westernport Bay community was celebrating after the announcement.
“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,” Carnegie said.
“Westernport Bay was never the place for such a monstrous, environmentally damaging project.”