AGL Crib Point Gas Import Jetty and Pipeline Project
AGL and APA Group jointly proposed a new Gas Import Jetty & Pipeline Project (GIJPP) for Crib Point to supply imported natural gas for residential, commercial and industrial customers across south-eastern Australia.
Mornington Peninsula Shire Council strongly opposed the project for the unacceptable risk it poses to climate change, Westernport Bay’s world-renowned Ramsar Wetland and UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, marine and terrestrial biodiversity, tourism and local amenity.
Update: Mornington Peninsula community was overjoyed by the Victorian Planning Minister’s announcement on 30 March 2021 that he does not support the project because of its unacceptable environmental impacts.
Read the full news article.
On 3 May 2021, AGL confirmed that it has abandoned the project.
The project sought to import Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) to Westernport Bay, process the gas on a permanently moored ship at Crib Point Jetty and pipe it to Pakenham for distribution across south-eastern Australia. The proposal comprised two main components:
Gas Import Jetty Works (AGL)
- A permanently moored ship – known as a Floating Storage and Regasification Unit (FSRU) – at Berth 2 of the existing Crib Point Jetty. The FSRU would store and convert liquid natural gas (LNG) to a natural gaseous state; and
- Construction of new infrastructure such as marine loading arms and piping on the existing Crib Point Jetty to transfer the gas from the FSRU to a new above-ground receiving facility onshore at Crib Point. The Crib Point Receiving Facility would include facilities to inject odorant and nitrogen (as required) into the gas to meet Victorian Transmission System (VTS) quality specifications.
Pipeline Works (APA Group)
- Construction of a 57km high-pressure gas pipeline to transport the gas from the Crib Point Receiving Facility to the VTS east of Pakenham; and
- Construction of an above ground delivery facility east of Pakenham to monitor, regulate and deliver the gas into the VTS for distribution throughout Victoria and south-east Australia.
AGL was responsible for the Gas Import Jetty Works whilst APA Group was responsible for the Pipeline Works. All details about the project can be found on the project’s website.
Council unanimously resolved to oppose the project at the 17 August 2020 Planning Services Committee (PSC) Meeting. (A recording of the meeting can be viewed here and minutes are available here).
In line with its resolution, Council lodged a submission to the Victorian State Government outlining the Shire’s opposition to the project and significant criticisms of the project’s Environment Effects Statement (EES).
With supporting evidence from various independent experts, Council presented its case against the project at the Crib Point Inquiry and Advisory Committee (IAC) Public Hearing held in October to December, 2020.
As Council has no decision-making powers, the Shire continues to lobby State and Federal Members of Parliament from all political sides to say no to AGL and reject the project.
Environmental Effects Statement (EES)
On 8 October 2018, the Minister required AGL and APA Group to prepare an Environment Effects Statement (EES) for the project under the Environmental Effects Act 1978. The purpose of the EES is to assess the potential environmental, social and economic impacts of the project and identify measures to avoid, mitigate, minimise or offset these impacts.
On 28 November 2018, the Commonwealth Minister for Environment determined that the project also requires assessment and approval under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) (EPBC Act) due to the potential for the project to have significant impacts on the internationally significant Western Port Ramsar site, listed migratory species, and listed threatened species and ecological communities.
The EES served as the accredited assessment process for the purpose of the EPBC Act under a Bilateral Assessment Agreement between the Commonwealth and Victorian governments.
The proponents prepared an EES according to requirements set by the Victorian Minister for Planning with oversight from the Impact Assessment Unit within the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP).
The Minister appointed a Technical Reference Group (TRG) comprising a range of inter-agency stakeholders to provide technical advice to the proponents and DELWP regarding the scoping and adequacy of the EES studies and documentation, as well as co-ordination of the EES process with other statutory approval processes.
Mornington Peninsula Shire was part of the TRG and engaged a range of technical experts to assist in reviewing draft documentation on the Shire’s behalf. The TRG process concluded in early 2020.
Draft Planning Scheme Amendment C272morn
Unlike the Pipeline Works, the Gas Import Jetty component of the project (which includes the permanently moored ship) required planning approval to proceed. The project proponents drafted a proposed amendment to the Mornington Peninsula Planning Scheme to facilitate this approval. Known as Amendment C272morn, the draft amendment sought to create a new site-specific planning control outlining all the planning requirements for the project in one integrated framework. The project would have been required to be constructed and operated in accordance with an ‘Incorporated Document’ forming part of the new planning framework.
Importantly, planning approvals issued under this new control would have been administered by the Minister for Planning – not Council.
As both the EES and Amendment C272morn were inter-related, the Planning Minister decided to run concurrent assessment processes.
The other key approvals required for project included:
- a Works Approval under the Environment Protection Act 1970 to operate the FSRU
- a Pipeline Licence under the Pipelines Act 2005 for construction and operation of the Pipeline Works
- consent under the Marine and Coastal Act 2018 for the components of the Gas Import Jetty Works and Pipeline Works to which this Act applies
- Cultural Heritage Management Plans (CHMPs) under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006.
At the direction of the Minister for Planning, the project's EES, Planning Scheme Amendment (C272morn), Works Approval Application and Pipeline Licence Application were placed on public exhibition for 40 business days from Thursday 2 July until Wednesday 26 August 2020.
During exhibition, municipal Councils, agencies and members of the public were invited to make a written submission on the project.
By the close of exhibition, State Government received a total of 6,058 submissions – the overwhelming majority of which opposed the project.
The Victorian Minister for Planning appointed a joint Inquiry and Advisory Committee (IAC) to consider the EES, draft Planning Scheme Amendment C272morn and Works Approval Application prepared for the project, as well as all public submissions received during exhibition and to advise the Minister for Planning. The IAC was also appointed as a Panel by the Victorian Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change to consider and advise on the pipeline license application under the Pipelines Act 2005.
The IAC comprised Kathy Mitchell (Chair), Michael Kirsch (Deputy Chair), Jacquelle Gorski, Chris Harty and Trevor McCullough. See the IAC member biographies here.
The IAC held a Public Hearing to allow for:
- the project proponents to set out their case in full and provide evidence in support of the project, and
- all municipal Councils, agencies, community groups and submitters to speak to their submissions and call evidence if required.
The Hearing ran for 10 weeks (38 days) from Monday 12 October to 17 December 2020. Owing to COVID-19 Public Health restrictions, the Hearing was held via video conference and livestreamed to the public.
The Hearing involved:
- 607 tabled documents,
- 47 expert witness statements,
- presentations from four Councils (Mornington Peninsula Shire, Bass Coast Shire, Cardinia Shire and Casey City Council),
- presentations from 116 members of the public, including 30 community and/or environmental organisations, and
- 1 accompanied site inspection to Crib Point and French Island.
All information about the Hearing, including timetables, daily recordings, all public submissions, tabled documents and expert evidence was published on Engage Victoria.
Following the Hearing, on 22 February 2021, the IAC issued its report to the Victorian Planning Minister to inform the Minister’s assessment of the EES. The IAC concluded that while most of the Project’s environmental effects can be acceptably managed, the Project would have unacceptable effects on the marine environment within an area of high conservation value and should not proceed.
Council appeared at the IAC Public Hearing jointly with Bass Coast Shire and was represented by barrister Rupert Watters, instructed by law firm Harwood Andrews.
Council called the following expert witnesses to provide evidence during the Hearing:
- Mr Ed Smith of Northmore Gordon – Greenhouse Gas Emissions
- Mr Chris Smitt of EHS Support – Groundwater and contaminated land impacts
- Dr Marcus Lincoln-Smith & Dr Craig Blount of Cardno - Marine ecology and biodiversity impacts (including on water birds)
- Ms Hilary Marshall of Ratio – Traffic and transport impacts
- Mr Jim Antonopoulos of SLR Consulting – Noise and vibration impacts
- Jake Ulrus of Tactecol Consulting – Terrestrial ecology impacts (including the Southern Brown Bandicoot)
- Dr Graeme Lorimer of Biosphere – Terrestrial ecology impacts (including the Merran’s Sun Orchid)
Copies of evidence filed on Council’s behalf with the IAC can be found on Engage Victoria.
After receiving the IAC’s report, the Minister released his assessment of the EES on 30 March 2021. The Minister concluded that the project will have unacceptable environmental effects.
The Minister forwarded his assessment to all the relevant State and Federal statutory decision-makers. Whilst not binding on them, the decision-makers were obliged to consider the Minister’s assessment when deciding whether to approve the project.
The key decision-makers were:
- Victoria’s Environment Protection Authority (EPA) which had to decide on the Works Approval (FSRU) and Licence (waste-water discharge into Westernport Bay) by the end of April 2021
- Victorian Minister for Energy, Environment & Climate Change, Hon. Lily D’Ambrosio’s who had to decide on the Pipeline Licence Application by the end of April
- Federal Minister for Environment, Hon. Sussan Ley who had to decide on controlled actions affecting nationally listed threatened and endangered species by mid-May 2021.
Following the Victorian Planning Minister’s unfavourable assessment of the project’s environmental impact, AGL withdrew its EPA Works Approval and Licence Application, Both AGL and APA later withdrew their applications for Federal approval of controlled actions.
AGL confirmed on 3 May 2021 that it is no longer pursuing the project.
During public exhibition of the EES and associated project documentation, Council held two online community information sessions to assist the community in understanding the approvals process and Council’s adopted position on the project. Copies of the presentations, video recordings and written responses to community questions raised during each session are provided below.
Community Information Session - 19 August 2020
AGL & APA Group Gas Import Project - Presentation - 19 August 2020
Community Information Session - 16 July 2020
AGL & APA Group Gas Import Project - Presentation - 16 July 2020
- 26 February 2021 – Council’s open letter to the Victorian Planning Minister, co-signed by community and environment groups
- 8 August 2020 - The Victorian Planning Minister’s letter refusing Council’s second request to postpone and extend public exhibition.
- 21 July 2020 - Council’s second letter to the Victorian Minister for Planning requesting postponement and extension of public exhibition.
- 27 April 2020 - Council’s letter to the Victorian Minister for Planning requesting postponement and extension of public exhibition.
For questions about the Crib Point AGL Gas Import Jetty Project, all project documentation (including EES and Amendment C272morn), and to subscribe to project updates please contact:
AGL Gas Import Jetty Project & APA Crib Point-Pakenham Gas Pipeline Project
Phone: 1800 039 600 or 1800 531 811
Email: AGLcommunity@agl.com.au or firstname.lastname@example.org
For questions about the Crib Point Inquiry & Advisory Committee (IAC) please contact:
Planning Panels Victoria
Phone: 136 186
For questions about the Minister's Assessment and EES process, please contact:
Impact Assessment Unit, DELWP
Phone: (03) 8392 5503
For questions about the Works Approval Application, please contact:
Phone: 1300 372 842
For questions about the Pipeline License Application please contact:
Pipeline Regulator Victoria
Phone: 136 186
For questions about the Port of Hastings please contact:
Port of Hastings Development Authority
Phone: 5979 5500
For questions about catchment management, please contact:
Port Phillip and Westernport Catchment Management Authority:
Phone: (03) 8781 7900
Fax: (03) 9781 0199