“French Island behind us would have been completely invisible.”
The $250 million proposal, from power company AGL and pipeline business APA, generated substantial local opposition, with an environment effects statement (EES) process garnering more than 6000 submissions.
AGL had been pursuing plans to build the floating import terminal in order to increase gas supplies in Victoria and NSW and prevent winter shortfalls.
While Australia is one of the world’s biggest exporters of liquefied natural gas (LNG), most is produced in the nation’s north, far away from demand centres in the south-eastern states, and is sold on long-term contracts to overseas buyers
“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,” Mr Wynne said. “It is probably one of the most intense EES processes we’ve had in this state in a very long time.”
Environment groups on Tuesday congratulated the government for rejecting AGL’s proposal, which they said was “polluting and completely inappropriate” for Victoria.
“Gas is a polluting fossil fuel and a major cause of the climate crisis,” Environment Victoria chief executive Jono La Nauze said.
“The gas imported through this terminal would have created more than 8 million tonnes of carbon pollution – that’s about 7 per cent of Victoria’s current annual emissions.”
Western Port is a Ramsar-listed wetland, recognised for its diversity of native flora and fauna, and particularly for its ability to support diverse types of waterbirds and wetland vegetation, including seagrass, salt marsh and mangroves. It is regularly home to 20,000 waterfowl, including endangered species.
Opponents of the proposal included local federal Liberal MP Greg Hunt, several shire councils recreational fishing groups, tourism operators, local business owners and environment and climate groups.
Mornington Peninsula shire mayor Despi O’Connor said she was “delighted that common sense has prevailed”. However, the shire cautioned that Mr Wynne’s report still needed to be considered by the federal Environment Minister.
Westernport and Peninsula Protection Council secretary Karri Giles said the decision would be welcomed by residents. “The feeling in the community was it was not appropriate for the area and it would put not just the environment, but the community at risk,” she said.
Ms Giles, who lives in Balnarring, said the decision did not mean that all industry would be ruled out for the area in future.
“There is a place for the right sort of industry. It just has to be at the right scale, with minimal damage to the environment.”
AGL chief executive Brett Redman said the company was “reviewing and considering its position” following the Andrews government’s decision.
But nothing could stop the party down by the beach at Crib Point.
“I feel elated today,” said former firefighter Rod Knowles.
With a blue clear sky shining off the bay on Tuesday, Mr Knowles said it made him feel “it’s almost saying thank you to us”.
With Nick Toscano, Benjamin Preiss and Mathew Dunckley
Miki Perkins is a senior journalist and Environment Reporter at The Age.
Business reporter for The Age and Sydney Morning Herald.
Benjamin is The Age’s regional editor. He was previously state rounds reporter and has also covered education for The Age.