THE federal government has been spared the need to make a formal decision on power company AGL’s plans to import liquified natural gas through a floating terminal at Crib Point.
Flinders MP Greg Hunt last week said that “neither an approval nor refusal” would need to be made as AGL had withdrawn its proposal from consideration under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
The withdrawal at the federal level by AGL comes one month after the state government knocked its plan back on environmental grounds (“State terminates AGL’s gas import plan” The Times 31/3/21).
In the following weeks Environmental Justice Australia lawyer Virginia Trescowthick said the federal government would be closely monitored “to ensure that their decision is consistent with the [state government’s decision] and the overwhelming community opposition to the project” (“Feds under pressure to back AGL refusal” The Times 12/4/21).
In making the announcement about AGL’s withdrawal, Mr Hunt thanked “all involved” in what had been “a long, valiant fight”.
“Throughout this fight I have been clearly, absolutely and unequivocally opposed to this proposed gas plant in Western Port,” Mr Hunt said.
“Today [Thursday 29 April}, AGL have formally withdrawn their referral for a proposed gas import facility at Crib Point.”
Mr Hunt thanked the Mornington Peninsula community “for their tireless, combined work in stopping this project”.
“This project was always a solution to a problem of the Andrews government’s own making thanks to their now cancelled moratorium on local conventional gas exploration,” he said.
“Now with this formal withdrawal, I’m pleased that the peninsula community’s strong objection to this project has been heard.”
Mr Hunt “acknowledged the advocacy” of Save Westernport, the Mornington Peninsula Shire, [Hastings Liberal MP] Neale Burgess “and others in our community.
“Together, we protected Point Nepean, cleaned up Gunnamatta Beach, stopped the proposed Boral plant in Crib Point and this withdrawal is another win for the local community”.
“This has been a long, valiant fight, but a worthwhile fight to protect our local Ramsar wetlands. Thank you to all involved.”
Mr Hunt first announced he was against the gas import plan in July 2018, saying he had “long argued that South Port [sic] is not the place for industrial development and my view hasn’t changed in a decade. This includes the AGL proposal for a floating storage regasification unit at Crib Point” (“Libs ‘united’ against gas plan” The Times 10/7/18).
His statement came one day short of four months since being asked by The Times if he opposed AGL’s proposal. His initial response was that he had asked AGL keep the community informed of its intentions and to directly consult with local community and environment groups.
Mr Hunt said his electorate office had been forwarding inquiries from the community to AGL for its response.