Public hearings into the proposed Viva gas terminal in Geelong have closed, with the project receiving more than 2000 written submissions.
Viva Energy is seeking approval for the gas terminal to bring natural gas from various locations in Australia and overseas, to meet the projected gas shortage in south-east Australia.
The gas terminal would require a floating gas terminal, an extension to Refinery Pier, a Treatment Facility and a new pipeline.
Environment Victoria’s Climate and Energy analyst Rai Miralles said the public hearings into Viva’s proposed gas terminal had an overwhelming extent of public opposition to the proposal from the local Geelong community.
“Many local residents and groups including Geelong Grammar School, North Shore Residents Group, Norlane Community Initiative, tourism and fishing businesses, and traditional owners have come out against this project because they are deeply worried about climate change, the project’s environmental impact and safety for nearby residents.
“Even GeelongPort made a very strong submission, including evidence from globally renowned experts in LNG terminals and port navigation, highlighting that this is a risky project.”
On 27 July, Viva Energy announced that it had entered into commercial agreements with GeelongPort for the construction and provision of necessary pier and berthing infrastructure, for the proposed gas terminal. Mr Miralles said while Viva’s commercial deal with GeelongPort only relates to pier infrastructure, it doesn’t change these serious concerns already presented to the hearings.
“Viva’s project rationale is flawed because they assume gas demand will remain the same from now until 2040, which means the gas sector would be doing nothing to cut emissions for 20 years. That’s completely unrealistic and ignores key government policies such as the Victorian Government’s new Gas Substitution Roadmap.
“Right from the beginning, Viva tried to downplay the climate impact of this project by excluding the largest source of pollution – transporting the LNG in ships to Geelong. Their argument was they had ‘no control’ over where the LNG would come from. We’re pleased to see the Victorian EPA’s closing submission was skeptical of this reasoning and dismissed supporting evidence from Viva.
“With global gas prices predicted to remain sky high for many years to come, importing gas from the global market is simply no solution to Victoria’s energy needs.”
Geelong Renewables Not Gas spokesperson Darcy Dunn said over the last few months the planning panel has heard a long list of concerns about this project. LNG is much more dangerous cargo than oil and we’ve never had this level of risk in Corio Bay before.
“Many local groups and experts noted in the hearings that the location is too close to people’s homes. Corio Bay is too narrow and shallow to safely manoeuvre such massive tanker ships.
“Viva’s proposal doesn’t include an adequate exclusion zone to reduce the risk if there’s a major safety incident. Dredging the bay will kill sea grasses and harm marine life, and Viva’s gas terminal would release more air and noise pollution which damages people’s health.”