Under section 16(e) of the Environmental Protection Act 1986, Minister for the Environment, the Hon. Stephen Dawson MLC, has requested the Western Australian Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) provide strategic advice on the potential cumulative impacts of proposed activities and developments in the Exmouth Gulf. The EPA has agreed to the request.
Minister Dawson has determined that new, and in some cases very recent proposals, such as the Gascoyne Gateway Cruise and Multi-Use Marine Facility, the K+S Salt proposal and the Learmonth pipeline fabrication project have the potential to significantly add to these impacts.
It is important that the Environment Minister understands the current social, cultural and environmental values in the Gulf prior to making a decision on any future proposals that may impact on these values.
The EPA has advised that its assessment periods for Subsea 7’s Learmonth Pipeline Fabrication Facility proposal and the Shire of Exmouth’s rezoning proposal will be extended so that the findings from the cumulative impact study can be fully considered.
Subsea 7 is proposing to construct and operate an onshore pipeline fabrication facility at Lots 233 and 1586 to the east of Minilya-Exmouth Road, Learmonth, approximately 35 kilometres south of the Exmouth Townsite.
The onshore pipeline fabrication site and associated infrastructure is proposed to include two Bundle tracks (approximately 10 kilometres in length) along which the Bundles would be constructed and launched from a Bundle launchway that crosses the beach and extends into the subtidal zone at Heron Point in the Exmouth Gulf.
Once launched, the Bundles would be towed along a pre-determined route between two tugs at a controlled depth to the Bundle Parking area within which tow reconfiguration may occur before continuing offshore. The Bundles would be towed at the surface through the Ningaloo Marine Park and Ningaloo World Heritage Area.
The Shire of Exmouth is proposing to rezone part of lots 223, 234, 235 and 1586 Minilya-Exmouth Road, Learmonth from ‘Rural’ and ‘Foreshore Reserve’ to ‘Special Use 10’ to facilitate the development of the proposed Learmonth Pipeline Fabrication Facility.
“The Exmouth Gulf is under increasing pressure from a range of activities and users and this is an opportunity to better understand the potential impacts before any significant development gets underway,” Minister Dawson said.
“Understanding any potential impacts that future developments may have on Exmouth Gulf will enable me to make an informed decision about these future proposals.”
The EPA is expected to provide the Minister with its advice on Exmouth Gulf at the end of June 2021.