This video was recently submitted by student Cerys Dell and is a recent project for her University course. It is a great video to watch if you love Westernport and want to help us protect it. This video explains the points involved and what is at stake. Infrastructure Victoria has asked that we prepare any final submissions to them in order for them to make recommendations to the Government on the Future Container Port. We need your support on this more than ever. Make sure you let the powers that be know that destroying Westernport would be an absolute disaster.
We recently presented to or communicated with, all ten recreational fishing clubs around the Western Port waterline on the impact on recreational fishing of building a container port in Western Port. Fishers and the industry they support were shocked to hear the impact that the LNP policy of building a container port in Western Port will have on the region.
Under the LNP container port proposal the declared port waters and anchorage area means no anchoring is allowed. Add to that the safety margin for staying clear of these massive containerships would leave only around 25% of the Western Port as safe, high tide fishable water.
Renowned local fisherman Kevin Chambers stated: “With the speed of the tides in Western Port drift fishing is not viable which means: No Anchoring = No Fishing. Those attempting to fish in the remaining safe high tide areas will face extreme congestion not only on the water but especially on the remaining useable boat ramps.”
Our presentations have been assisted by well known fishing identity Mr. Glenn Cooper, aka Guru Glen of “That’s The Thing About Fishing. Glenn does great work taking the less fortunate people in our community fishing as a means of therapy, to as he puts it, “Changing lives, one life at a time”. www.thatsthethingaboutfishing.org.au
The information sessions included distributing specialised fishing brochures, maps and postcards to be sent to the Hon Jaala Pulford MLC, as the Minister responsible for recreational fishing with the message “We Don’t Want Western Port Fishing Wrecked.”
Mr. Chambers added: “The loss of snapper, whiting and gummy shark fishing spots would be made worse with the dredging required building the container port. The equivalent of 15 MCG’s full of dredge would be removed leading to vastly increased erosion and the smothering of the remaining fish breeding sea grass grounds.”
Mr. Nottle Chairman of the Preserve Western Port Action Group stated” Based on the Economic Study of Recreational Fishing in Victoria 2015 by Ernst and Young recreation fishing generates around $600M every year for the Western Port economy in towns from Stony Point right around to Phillip Island and all the towns in between. This industry and the jobs it generates would all be a risk if the container port was constructed”.
Mr Nottle added: “An oil spill from just one of the 3,000 container ships in Western Port would be catastrophic, as it is a 50% chance the oil will end up on a mud bank at low tide. No known oil spill equipment can clean oil off a mud bank making the oil spill virtually permanent.”
We welcome the opportunity to talk to more fishing clubs about the impact of a container port in Western Port. Contact Kevin 0418 127 748, e.mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Media Enquiries: Jeff Nottle: 0419 158 232 email: email@example.com
Last year we approched A/Professor David Kennedy from the University of Melbourne for information on what the likely Geomophic impacts the Port of Hasting Development would cause - this was his response;
Thank you for the information provided by the Western Port Local Coastal Hazard Assessment and the Preserve Western Port Action Group Discussion Paper regarding the proposed development in Western Port, especially the plans for a single channel deep-water channel and associated mooring and swing basin at the northern and southern ends of the this channel.
Based on my > 15 year experience in coastal geomorphology including recent work in Western Port and similar structurally controlled estuaries in New Zealand
...I can conclude that the proposed development is almost certain to have major environmental impacts on the marine and coastal environment of Western Port Bay.
There will be immediate effects from dredging particularly associated with suspended sediment and its impact on the benthic intertidal and subtidal communities. A larger concern are the changes in hydrodynamics and associated sediment movement that will be associated with the development.
A deep-water channel will lead to the propagation of open ocean waves further into the estuary as well as enhance the size of locally-generated wind waves. As the coastline of Western Port has evolved under low energy, fetch-limited, conditions any increase in wave energy will result in significant shoreline erosion. All shorelines adjacent to the area of dredging will be affected. The increased channel size will also likely increase the tidal prism within the estuary.
The potential for major landscape change is not restricted to just the channel area. The eroding shoreline of the north eastern side of the Bay will also be affected.
There is a very high risk of greatly increased erosion throughout the northern, western and southern shores of Western Port including the eastern shoreline of Bass Coast around Coronet Bay and the Phillip Island north shore.
A general lack of knowledge of sediment transport pathways within the Bay mean the potential impacts could be more widespread than inferred here as there is likely be strong connectively between sedimentary systems around the entire bay.
Recently Preserve Westernport has been out talking with people in Victorias Bunyip Food Belt about the devastating impact dredging Westernport would have on the Agricultural Industry. The Asparagus Industry relies on the groundwater bores to water their crop.
Victoria is the leading state in Australia for the production and export of fresh asparagus, producing 95% of the national asparagus crop with a Gross Value of 95% of $41.42 m (ABS: Agriculture 2007-08).
The threat has still not gone away!! Last week we had an opportunity to talk with the Hon Jaala Pulford MP, Minister for Regional Development - including fishing. We provided the following letter;
The Hon Jaala Pulford
The Preserve Western Port Action Group is a subcommittee of the Phillip Island Conservation Society. We and our community are focused on preserving Western Port as we believe Western Port should be used for recreation and not industrialisation.
Our group would like to congratulate the Andrews Government on three comprehensive reports released since you came to office, in relation to the fragile environment of Western Port. These reports are:
• The Central Regional Coastal Plan;
• The Western Port Local Coastal Hazard Assessment; and
• The revised Western Port Ramsar Site Management Plan.
All three reports contain one very consistent theme and that is, Western Port must be maintained and enhanced for the recreational benefit of all Victorians and given the importance of the Bass Coast/Phillip Island tourism industry, indeed tourists from all over Australia and the world.
To further add to the vital part Western Port Bay plays in Victoria’s environmental and economic future, we must add the May 2015 release of the Governments “Target One Million” recreational fishers program.
ECONOMIC VALUE OF BASS COAST WESTERNPORT TOURISM/RECREATIONAL FISHING
Respected Government sponsored studies over the last two years have highlighted the economic impact importance of tourism and recreational fishing to the Western Port region’s economy, with a combined value of $1.2 billion PA and in the case of Bass Coast Shire, tourism is responsible for 5,000 FTE or 1 in 3 jobs. The above figure is a minimum, as no tourism figures for the eastern side of the Mornington Pensinsula could be extrapolated from those of the whole area.
What is in no doubt is the Western Port annual visitor figure of 8.5 million p.a. taken from the Parks Victoria Revised Safety and Environmental Management Plan, (SEMP), for the local ports of Port Phillip and Western Port
Your press release of 3 May 2015 quotes a figure of $2.3 billion pa benefit to the Vic economy from recreational fishing. Meaning that, 30% of the above figure is attributable to recreational fishing in Western Port Bay.
Also, in terms of ensuring the recreational fishing future of Western Port, will the Andrews Government undertake to remove the previous Governments 2011 much expanded Hastings Port limit??. If this was ever enforced, it would eliminate 75% of the safe, high tide fishable waters of the Bay. What’s left would become an overcrowded mess, both on the water and on the boat ramps, meaning that “Target One Million” would be almost impossible to achieve.
Our group has also undertaken research on what would occur if Western Port was dredged down far enough to penetrate the aquifers that supply irrigation water to the asparagus and other vegetable crops in the Bunyip Food bowl.
I have attached a copy of a recent presentation to the Asparagus Council of 14 March 2014 that outlines some of the issues related to the dredging for a container port and potential impact on aquifers.
GEOMORPHIC IMPACT OF A CONTAINER PORT AT HASTINGS
We have attached some information for your consideration that includes advice received from Associate Professor David Kennedy of Melbourne University that highlights the impact that dredging would have on
Western Port and the local beaches.
“There is a very high risk of greatly increased erosion throughout the northern, western and southern shores of Western Port including the eastern shoreline of Bass Coast around Coronet Bay and the Phillip Island north shore.”
We are aware of the process of establishing Infrastructure Victoria and support its establishment.
We urge you to ensure that the potential impacts on recreational fishing, agriculture and regional development and the associated impacts on jobs and the local community are included in the analysis. We believe that once industrialisation of Western Port commences with the construction of container port Victoria and the wider community stands to lose economically, environmentally and socially.
We recognise further work is required to comprehensively identify and quantity the adverse impacts and we would be pleased to discuss these issues with you as required.
Westernport is an Internationally recognised RAMSAR site
Ramsar sites (or Ramsar wetlands) are wetlands of international importance listed under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. For more information on the convention globally visit the Ramsar Convention website.
DEWLP is working with local stakeholders to update the Western Port Ramsar Site Management Plan, which provides the blueprint for managing this important site.
The Victorian community is invited to comment on the draft Plan. You can provide comments by:
- attending one of the information sessions in Warneet, Hastings or San Remo
- emailing your comments to WesternPort.Ramsar@delwp.vic.gov.au
- posting your comments to:
Waterway Health – Wetlands
PO Box 500
You could include comments on parts of the plan do you think need improving (including how this could be achieved), or any issues that need to be addressed in the plan that are not covered.
The consultation period is open from 1–31 March 2016.
If you have any queries, please email WesternPort.Ramsar@delwp.vic.gov.au.
The project is guided by a steering committee, including representatives from DELWP, Melbourne Water, Parks Victoria, Port Phillip and Western Port Catchment Management Authority and Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA). The committee is working closely with a stakeholder advisory group, including representatives from a broad range of organisations with an interest in the site.
Representatives of the Management Plan Steering Committee will present information on the Ramsar site and the management plan, including the process used to develop the plan, priority values, threats and proposed management strategies. The panel will then be available to answer questions.
Warneet Motor Yacht Club, Rutherford Parade, Warneet, 9 March 2.00pm
Hastings Community Hub, 1973 Frankston Flinders Road, Hastings 9 March 5.30pm
San Remo Hotel, 145 Marine Parade, San Remo 10 March 5.30pm
About the plan
The Western Port Ramsar Site Strategic Management Plan (Parks Victoria 2003) established the framework for the maintenance of ecological character through conservation and wise use. The plan is now over a decade old and there has been significant progress in both our understanding of the ecological character of Western Port and our strategic direction in management of the site and other Ramsar wetlands in Australia. A consultative and collaborative process was undertaken to review and update the Ramsar site management plan. The objective of the plan is to maintain the ecological character of the site. The steering committee worked closely with the representatives from a broad range of organisations via a stakeholder advisory group. DELWP provided information and an email address for further questions via the department website .
There are 11 Ramsar sites in Victoria. The following documents are available for each Ramsar site and can be accessed by clicking on the individual Ramsar site link below.
- Ecological character descriptions document the ecological character of Ramsar sites at the time they were listed under the Ramsar Convention.
- Ramsar Information Sheets provide essential data on Ramsar sites and are required by the Ramsar Convention.
- A geospatial layer of Ramsar site boundaries (RAMSAR25) can be obtained via the Victorian Government Data Directory website. The interactive mapping tool Biodiversity Interactive Map can be used to view and produce Ramsar sitemaps.
- Ramsar site strategic management plans set out the management objectives and strategies for each Ramsar site. The Management of Victoria's Ramsar Wetlands Strategic Directions Statement [PDF File - 961.3 KB] establishes a set of objectives and state wide strategies for the management of Ramsar sites in Victoria.
Western port is an amazing place for recreational fishing & boating. The Port expansion will mean a huge change to that lifestyle and along with that many jobs in boating charters and fishing and dive charters stand to be affected. Yachties will also be affected as they will lose up to 70% of water 'right of way'.
Have a look at our video to learn more and keep your ears open at the local angling & yachting club where we often stop by for a chat and to answer any questions you might have.
We also now have a dedicated page for our Fisho's so check in regularly for updates. Don't forget to send us your fishing, dive & yachting photos and we will share them with our followers.
Watch our presentation below:
Recently we had represetatives from our action group attend a Westernport Environment Research and Science Seminar conducted by Melbourne Water. The Seminar was very informative and updated many of the areas of concern and looked at strategies to help protect and manage Western Port as a valuable asset in terms of its environmental value to all Victorians. The future of the bay is still under threat from the port development, this research shows that further Industrialisation will have a negative impact on the health of Westernport.
In order to manage marine environments effectively, we need to know what aspects of marine environments are important (and to whom), and recognise the activities that might pose threats; and from that position, examine ways of managing major threats to important environmental components. Important aspects of ecosystems are commonly called ‘values’ or ‘assets’, and we adopt the term ‘assets’ here. Assets are components of the ecosystem. They may have a very narrow focus, such as an individual species and a specific breeding area, or they may be broad and inconspicuous, such as habitat areas that support nutrient cycling or other ecosystem services.
Here is a link to the full PDF of the Research & Publication released at the seminar.
The Preserve Western Port Action Group (PWP) took advantage this weekend to set up their information stall on the Cowes Foreshore last Saturday. Members of the action group also took the opportunity to randomly survey people passing by.
The members asked the public about their knowledge of the concept of building an interantional container terminal in Western Port. Of the 32 groups of people surveyed, 50 per cent of respondents were unaware of the proposed development.
The public were also asked of their knowledge of 6,000 container ships passing the Cowes foreshore every year and the fact that anchorage for the ships is only 100meters from the beaches of Cowes.
The public were then asked if the presence of the ships would deter the people from choosing Phillip Island as a future holiday destination. Overwhelmingly 75% of those surveyed responded that they would not choose Phillip Island and surrounding region for a holiday if the development were to occur.
In reviewing the responses the chairman of the action group Jeff Nottle stated;"The responses from this initial survey should send shockwaves to the tourism industry,local businesses and land owners.
"The responses indicated that 75% of people would not choose to visit the Phillip Island region if the container terminal is built in Western port. In 2012-2013 tourism contributed $653 million to the Phillip Island (Bass Coast Shire) economy. 37.9 percent of gross regional product, employed 5700 people (38.2% of regional employment)."
"Late last year PWP appeared at the Parliamentary Inquiry into the proposed lease of the Port of Melbourne. Group secretary Kate Whittaker advised parliamentary members;
"...Phillip Island it is seen as being a natural, eco type tourism place. I think having a very large container port with what has been propertied to be 8-10 container ships off the beaches of Cowes and withon Western Port per day, makes the nature and ecotourism lack credibility, because it becomes not a place of nature but rather a place of industry. To me it just makes the whole tourism side of the bay lack credibility and authenticity."
Jeff Nottle added; "further detailed research and surveys need to be undertaken to establish the size of the impact to the regions employment, visitor numbers, business conferences and local real state."
Mr Nottle said the group is made up of volunteers and welcomes assistance from the community, tourism sector and businesses.
The recently released Western Port Local Coastal Hazard Assessment reports illustrates just how much of Western Port is at risk of inundation or erosion (and in some cases both), by climate change induced storm surges and sea level rises.
In August this year the Bass Coast Shire Council endorsed a planning scheme amendment on Land Subject to Inundation Overlays (C82) based on these findings.
More recently the Port of Melbourne select committee inquiry into the proposed lease of the Port of Melbourne heard from the Preserve Western Port Action Group.
At the hearing on 28 October 2015 the Chairman of the Preserve Western Port Action Group Jeff Nottle advised the Inquiry:
“...a business case and or cost-benefit analysis for a container port at Hastings needs to include all the costs that impact on the region.”
In addition Mr. Nottle added: “...cost estimates for Western Port.... need to include the impact of increased erosion and sediment flows arising from the dredging in a very high tidal flow environment. Current erosion issues will be accelerated and exacerbated with severe impacts, particularly in the north of the bay and on the north shore of Phillip Island, which includes Cowes and Silverleaves.”
“....the analysis that we have used has been based on the Victoria University supply chain institute........... 18 million cubic metres worth of dredging at the wharf side and 6 million cubic metres in the approach channel….”
Following the Inquiry one of Australia’s leading geomorphologists Associate Professor David Kennedy of the University of Melbourne considered the Victoria University findings and the Western Port Local Coastal Hazard Assessment reports. Professor Kennedy has since stated:
“I can conclude that the proposed development is almost certain to have major environmental impacts on the marine and coastal environment of Western Port Bay.”
“There will be immediate effects from dredging particularly associated with suspended sediment and its impact on the benthic intertidal and sub-tidal communities. A larger concern are the changes in hydrodynamics and associated sediment movement that will be associated with the development.”
“There is a very high risk of greatly increased erosion throughout the northern, western and southern shores of Western Port including the eastern shoreline of Bass Coast around Coronet Bay and the Phillip Island north shore. A general lack of knowledge of sediment transport pathways within the Bay mean the potential impacts could be more widespread than inferred here as there is likely be strong connectively between sedimentary systems around the entire bay.”
In responding to this new report Jeff Nottle added:
“This independent specialist analysis brings into focus the potential damage to Western Port properties and coastal foreshores and beaches that will arise from the dredging associated with the construction of a container port at Hastings. The erosion and inundation caused will not be gradual and imperceptible, it will be obvious as the Western Port Local Coastal Hazard Assessment reports give us a baseline for erosion and inundation without the dredging for the port.
We believe all proponents for the construction of a container port at Hastings should support the establishment of a Western Port Erosion and Compensation Fund as part of a business case for Hastings.The fund could then be accessed by affected property holders and coastal land managers to restore the coast or to provide compensation.”
27 November 2015
Media enquiries: Jeff Nottle 0419 158 232
The Western Port Ramsar Management Plan was produced in 2003,
with a great deal of input from local conservation groups, especially
WPPC (Westernport & Peninsula Protection Council),PICS (Phillip
Island Conservation Society), Bird Observers Club and VWSG
(Victorian Wader Study Group) Inexplicably however these groups
were not informed of the current review of the Managment Plan.
WPPC and PICS have been actively campaigning to protect and
preserve Westernport since 1970. In the 1980’s we lobbied successfully for
Westernport bay to be listed as a Ramsar site. We
made detailed input to the Western Port Ramsar Management Plan
between 2001-03. We are astounded that we were not informed of a
review of the Management Plan that has been taking place this year.
We belatedly and only informally heard about the review one week
before the final consultation was to take place and after contacting
the convener, were invited to participate. However, our participation
was too late to make any meaningful input to the priorities
established at previous meetings.
We, the undersigned, are very concerned that the Draft plan
release in January will not address the most serious risks to the bay.
We request an urgent meeting with you to explain our concerns
about the Management Plan Review
We also urge you to delay publication of the Draft to allow adequate
consultation with these community stakeholders.
The Preserve Western Port Action Group accepted the invitation last Wednesday to appearand present to the Victorian Government Select Committee Inquiry into the proposed lease of the Port of Melbourne.
A select committee of eight members have been appointed to inquire into, and report on, the potential outcomes of leasing Melbourne’s current container port. The legislation is currently before the Parliament.
“Our interest centres around the potential impacts of the proposed lease on the development of a second container port In Hastings.” Chairman of Preserve Western Port Action Group,
Jeff Nottle said.
“Stopping the construction of a huge container port and the associated industrial development in beautiful Western Port has been the focus of our mainly Phillip Island based group of volunteers for the past 18 months.” Mr Nottle stated.
“It was an excellent opportunity to inform the politicians of Spring St of the importance of Western Port as a unique and fragile marine ecosystem, a nature-based tourism asset and amuch loved holiday and fishing area.”
“Importantly, it was made clear to the Select Committee that Western Port and Hastings are not the natural deep water port that many politicians have been espousing and a container port will have serious adverse impacts to the Phillip Island economy and environment.”
“It was such a boost for our cause to present our views on Western Port directly to the politicians and have it recorded in Hansard.” Mr Nottle said.
The reporting date for this inquiry is 30 November 2015.
Western Port watchers, tourism operators, environmentalists and the community are all celebrating the record number of whale sightings this year in Western Port. With sightings of more than 110 humpbacks, one southern right and four orcas in the region whale watching cruises even extended their cruise schedules.
Conservationists are also celebrating the recent Phillip Island Nature Parks quarterly birdcount that revealed record numbers of sightings and significant sightings of Double bandedplovers, Red necked stints, Caspian terns, Godwits, and Red-capped plovers at Observation Point.
Meanwhile the oil industry and the Port of Hastings are taking advantage of the protected pristine waters of Western Port to park an unwanted oil exploration rig the West Telesto just off the Phillip Island coast line near Observation Point for an undefined period of time.The oil rig is owned and operated by Origin Energy and when fully operational costs around $500,000 a day to operate. When parked in Western Port the Hastings Port operator Patrick has refused to disclose the amount of money being received.
Western Port supports international and domestic tourism, eco tourism, marine life, bird populations and the oil industry and Patrick just want to park unwanted oil exploration rigs inthe same place.
Jeff Nottle Chairman of the Preserve Western Port Action Group is calling on the State Government to initiate holistic master planning for Western Port. Currently Western Port has multiple land managers, authorities and community organisations as well as the oil industryand Port operators all seeking to achieve different visions for this RAMSAR protectedwaterway.
The oil industry and the environment are colliding and Western Port needs protection andmaster planning to secure and preserve this natural asset and the vast tourist economy itsupports from the oil industry and further industrialisation.
This week we recieved a copy of a letter sent to all SE Suburban Councillors and CEO's from David Davis MP - Shadow Minister for Planning. The letter is proof that the shipping port at Hastings is still being pursued. We will be actively seeking answers and further information on the Port proposal as will we be looking closely at all issues surrounding such a ridiculous proposal including environmental and financial. We urge you to join us to fight the ongoing threat to Westernport Bay.
This article appeared in The Age Newspaper on Sunday 28 June 2015
Published: June 28, 2015 - 12:15AM
Coastal developers should be paying to offset air pollution – not from their bulldozers and or dredging barges, but from the tonnes of ancient carbon released into the atmosphere when wetlands are drained and dug up.
This is the view of Dr Peter Macreadie, award-winning marine ecologist and Australian Research Council Fellow, who has just completed the first major survey of "blue carbon" stocks along 2000 kilometres of Victorian coastline.
Blue carbon is stored many metres deep in the sediment of vegetated coastal ecosystems such as mangrove forests, seagrass beds, and salt marshes.
Dr Macreadie, who holds senior lecturing positions at Deakin University and Sydney's University of Technology cites the proposed $4 billion marina in Geelong and the vast dredging required to expand Hastings as a container port as projects where developers will not be held to account for large-scale carbon pollution.
"These developers stand to make a lot of money ... and yet they won't have to pay for the carbon released as invisible gas from the sediments being disturbed," he says. "Before those projects proceed, there needs to be a weighing up of the cost ... an understanding of what's being lost."
Unless governments act, by either preserving wetlands or re-establishing a carbon price, Victoria's environment will suffer "a death by a thousand cuts," he says. But the legislation designed to protect coastal ecosystems is vague. He says it does not take into account the recent discovery of the amount of carbon captured in wetlands.
When reminded that the political environment may not be friendly or responsive to his predictions, Dr Macreadie tells the story of the Sacramento delta, where a billion tonnes of carbon was released during a century of dredging, draining a development. "It was the equivalent to chopping down half the trees in California," he says.
That billion tonnes was accumulated over 5000 years. "And once it's released it's hard to get it back into the ground," he says. Independent reports suggest the drained soils of the delta continue to emit up to two million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.
Macreadie, who has researched the blue carbon question in Australia and abroad, says wetlands are able to bury carbon more than 40 times faster than trees, and keep the carbon from escaping for much longer. "Wetlands are able to sequester carbon for thousands of years, where a tree will breakdown and release its carbon after a couple of hundred years at most," he says.
In the unruly climate change debate, the role of blue carbon as potential saviour and destroyer, is a relatively new phenomenon. Peter Macreadie, just one more scientist beating his head against the wall, reflects: "Offsetting the world's carbon emissions can sometimes feel like bailing water out of the sinking Titanic with a teacup, but when I look at the keeling curve [the graph that shows the rapid increase of emissions] and see it oscillating up and down due to photosynthesis – the earth 'breathing' – I realise that this whole biosequestration is so important.
"Indeed, it is the only known way of reducing concentrations of already-released carbon dioxide, and is now seen by the world as a necessary mechanism for keeping global warming under two degrees celsius as the world transitions to a low-carbon economy."
The next stage of Macreadie's research will look at how fast carbon is accumulating in our wetlands. The research, completed as part of scientist Carolyn Ewers' PhD project within Deakin's School of Life and Environmental Sciences, will be released as part of next week's Australian Marine Sciences Association Conference, hosted by Deakin at its Waterfront Geelong campus, beginning July 5.
The following is the transcript from the presentation Mr Jeff Nottle presented to the Planning Panel at Hastings on the 24 June. It addresses issues associated with the proposed Boat Harbour development at Yaringa.
Dear Planning Panels
Our committee is a subcommittee of the Phillip Island Conservation Society. Our committee has considered the proposed planning scheme amendment and have outlined below objections to the current proposal.
Our Committee would like to support some of the objections lodged and support the grounds as outlined by other groups including the Mornington Environment Association Inc. and Peninsula Speaks Inc.
Our objections are based on those comments and our outlined below.
From the Ecology Partners flora and fauna report shown below:
"Potential direct impacts to ecological values within the study area include:
• Removal of the state significant Swamp Scrub and Sedgy Swamp Woodland considered endangered in Victoria;
• Decreases in population sizes of local flora species including the depletion and fragmentation of remnant native vegetation within the region;
• Fragmentation and loss of native vegetation connectivity (i.e. wildlife corridors) within the landscape which is likely to be important for flora and fauna survival and migration;
• Possible introduction and further spread of exotic weed species through construction activities and garden plantings;
• Loss and/or disturbance of suitable habitat for a range of national, state and regional significance;
• Loss of suitable foraging and shelter habitat for common fauna species; and,
• Direct mortality of locally common fauna species within the study area at the time of construction.
Indirect effects on adjacent areas, such as Mornington Peninsula National Park, are also possible if construction activities are not appropriately managed, and these include:
• Further introduction of environmental weeds into the adjacent area of Coastal Saltmarsh, which occurs directly to the west of the study area, as a result of inappropriate landscape plantings; and,
• Soil disturbance which could increase the spread of weeds in the study area and beyond within areas of coastal vegetation around the Somerville area.
• Any loss of ecological values should be viewed in the overall context of ongoing loss,fragmentation, and deterioration in the quality of remnant vegetation throughout the Mornington Peninsula"
"There were several survey limitations, including:
The short survey period meant that uncommon species may not have been observed within the study area.
The survey was conducted in mid-summer which means many annual species may not have been observed within the study area.
While the objective of the assessment was to document terrestrial flora species and communities in the study area, and to identify potential impacts of the proposed development, an assessment of the interaction of species over a longer survey period was beyond the scope of this study.
The short duration of the survey that potential migratory, transitory or uncommon fauna species are likely to have been missed"
This subject area includes crown land, i.e. it belongs to the people; its loss and damaged state may be regretted long after the current Council and residents are gone.
This proposal is for a canal estate and a marina; the Victorian Coastal Strategy (approved 2014) does not encourage the building of any more of these in Victoria. We understand that the PPWCMPA Submission will include their concerns in relation to the “targets described in the Regional Catchment Strategy for native vegetation, native animals and marine water quality.
The hydrology Report
This was prepared in June 2012 by Aurecon is based on a number of questionable assumptions, vis: That the lock system proposed will be sufficient to permit high tides to do the water circulation, though Aurecon admits a detailed water mixing study has not been conducted. Aurecon assumes that because the water body is smaller than Patterson Lakes and Martha Cove, then the high tide movement will be sufficient to avoid the possibility of algal blooms. Aurecon does not refer to the Gippsland Lakes, in the same Gippsland bio-region, where algal blooms and toxic inflows are relatively common, despite the Lakes being swept by rough seas and not being an enclosed body like Westernport.
Westernport is a valuable recreational, fishing and biodiverse area. If the water quality of this canal estate is suspect, and flowing into the northern end of Westernport, there is a likely impact on the mangroves and salt marshes that form such an important of the ecology of the whole Westernport.
The Fauna and Flora Report
This report also causes our members great concern.
Some may consider salt marshes, swamps and bush to be of little significance but the vegetation in this area – and on Crown Land, (thus belonging to the people) is one of the last remaining remnants of valuable habitat and diverse richness, forming corridors across the Peninsula and to the north.
There are two bioregion endangered vegetation communities, Sedgy Swamp Woodland and Swamp Scrub. There are potential habitats for state significant flora species (detailed by the Submission of WPPC 2015), several EPBC Act listed flora and 24 other flora species considered regionally significant within the Gippsland Plain bioregion. The proposed action is a Controlled Action under the EPBC Act. Though the small fauna studies did not reveal the presence of the New Holland Mouse, the Southern Bandicoot and the Orange-bellied Parrot, and other listed birds that cannot be a guarantee that these species will not be there or move in and through the areas.
This is a Ramsar site, and Australia, Victoria and the Shire have responsibilities to preserve the habitat under the Ramsar convention, and the international CAMBA, JAMBA and KAMBA migratory bird conventions. Why should a developer expand into valued, world recognised biodiverse areas and challenge world conventions? Terrestrial and sea birds have been listed by WPPC and the proponent’s Environment report and we repeat, we remain concerned that all these species will be at risk.
In brief, there are likely to be direct impacts to ecological values within the Study Area of the Amendment. These are likely to include removal of the state significant Swamp Scrub and Sedgy Swamp Woodland considered endangered in Victoria; There is likely loss of wildlife corridors and likely increases in weeds, with inappropriate landscaping increasing the potential for weeds. There is the potential for marine exotic species including the Northern Pacific Seastar on boat hulls to spread through the canals and surrounding land.
No guarantees appear to be provided in the Amendment for monitoring, checking long term changes and how the Ramsar area is being protected. These are required under the EPBC Act and its final report. The Final Environment Public Report of 2013 (Ecology and Heritage partners of Somerville) again was prepared before this Amendment was made public.
Our group remains concerned that such a large development in what is basically a relatively pristine area, WILL affect the biodiversity of this northern end of Westernport.
We understand that destroyed vegetation, as explained, will be offset by land on French Island, purchased by the proponent. We understand this block is now up for sale, so are the ‘net gain’ rules for offsetting not going to apply for the Shire?
Disturbance to acid sulphate soils is of special concern.
These soils are not a hazard until they are disturbed. However, the widening of the new channel, the building of the tourist accommodation and associated infrastructure, the digging for the canals themselves and maintenance dredging will disturb the soils and their substrate. Disposal of dredged spoil is going to require ongoing monitoring to meet the EPBC Act requirements.
Loss of Ambience
Little mention is found in all the Papers, Attachments, EPBC report and Shire materials of the risk of changes to the ambience of this area – the loss of peace and quiet, the calmness of areas used by birds with an occasional yacht; and the lack of general development in the area. Even the existing small industrial boat premises are not a major intrusion. Why should a private developer take over areas of Crown Land which has to be re-zoned to cater for his personal interests?
Need for tourist development: We have been unable to ascertain how the expressed need for 180 apartments for tourists, increases in the dry stacking up to 1000 boats, a conference centre for 240 patrons, food and drink premises for 120 sets, and up to 14 staff dwellings has been considered as essential in this development.
The existing restaurant is excellent, but there are frequently times when it has barely a dozen patrons. Where is the need for all this expansion explained?
What is the basis of the calculations for the large number of people expected to be employed at the site?
Conclusion and questions
Our committee is concerned that the Shire is about to embark on approving a canal estate and marina in an internationally recognised valuable biodiverse area and will allow development in a potentially acid sulphate soil area, as well as allowing potentially destruction of valued swamplands , sedge land and woodland, all under threat on the Peninsula.
Much monitoring and expense appears necessary and will the Shire be able to assure us that our international obligations in this sensitive area are being met? Will the northern end of Westernport be sufficiently protected under the proposed controls and monitoring audits?
An expanded Port at Hastings would mean further dredging of Westernport in addition to the dredging required for the proposal.
Q 1Who will be responsible for restoration works for the coastline following dredging?
On the basis of the content of the Clarke Expert Witness Statement the following questions need to be addressed.
Q2. It would appear that the purposes of Schedule 1 to the Special Use Zone are not being met. The purpose includes providing a location for port and industrial uses that are depend upon or gain significant advantage from the natural deep water channels in Westernport. The entrance channels to Hastings have been previously dredged and the current application envisages further dredging from the proposed marina to Westernport.
How can the purpose of the land be met as the approach channels and entrance to the marina are not natural deep water channels in Westernport?
Q3. Do you believe the existing Westernport port limits will need to be altered to allow ships to swing around and manoeuvre if the Government decides to build a container port at Hastings?
Jeff Nottle Chairman
A new study has been released to support local action on climate change impacts in Western Port
The Western Port Local Coastal Hazard Assessment, which provides detailed mapping, modelling and data, was released on 5 June 2015.
The Western Port Local Coastal Hazard Assessment project is part of a wider Victorian Government program led by Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) to generate detailed coastal mapping and information. This information will help Victorians understand and plan for climate risks along the coast through better information on storm surges and possible sea level rise impacts.
Western Port is one of four locations (the others being, Port Fairy, Bellarine Peninsula, Gippsland Lakes) within Victoria where Local Coastal Hazard Assessments are being undertaken. Western Port has significant social, economic, built and natural values, which have been identified as at risk from the impacts of sea level rise and storm surge
DELWP, in partnership with Melbourne Water, the South East Councils Climate Change Alliance, Bass Coast Shire Council, Cardinia Shire Council, City of Casey and the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council wanted to understand the potential local impacts of climate change on and around Western Port.
The project examined areas that are potentially vulnerable due to hazards associated with coastal erosion, flooding, sea level rise and storm surge. The severity of these impacts and the diversity of the Western Port coastline mean appropriate actions will vary with the context and nature of each location.
Information obtained from the project and detailed assessments will be used to make decisions about:
- Local infrastructure;
- Natural asset management;
- Emergency management planning;
- To inform land use planning and statutory planning decisions;
- Help communities develop adaptation plans.
Information from this project will also add to the suite of information available to help identify how and where Western Port Councils, community, industry and government can work together to respond to or address the potential impacts of climate change.
Download the following reports from the project:
The possibility of a State Government industrialising Westernport and building a container port at Hastings is still 100% “On the Table” and our community needs to be aware that this can happen. Media commentary around the recent port announcements by the Government has sent mixed messages to the community. Stated Jeff Nottle Chairman.
Mr Luke Donnellan, Minister for Ports made the Hastings container port option perfectly clear at the Public accounts and Estimates Committee held in Melbourne on 22 May 2015.
“Development of the second container port will be demand driven, with timing determined when the port of Melbourne reaches capacity. Government policy is to seek independent advice from Infrastructure Victoria about Bay West as an alternative site to Hastings for Victoria’s second container port.”
“We will allow Infrastructure Victoria to put together a team to look at Bay West but also continue the work in relation to the Port of Hastings Development Authority. So we will continue to have an assessment process undertaken by Infrastructure Victoria of both options.”
This ‘demand driven’ approach of the Government to a container port is in stark contrast to the build it and they may come approach of the former LNP Government. Whilst the economic drivers for the huge investment may have changed, the possibility of Hastings being a container port has not. Stated Jeff Nottle
The Minister also added
“I think we really need a thorough and rigorous analysis by Infrastructure Victoria - by economists, transport planners and the like - to actually get it right. I think we need to, as much as we can, put it into an independent entity to do it, not to put it into the hands of politicians.”
“In terms of when we need to make a decision, we would make it during this term.”
The role of Infrastructure Victoria is central for the decision on the location of a second container port. Detailed submissions will be sought and the Government will then decide and legislate on the location before the next State election.
The most persuasive arguments put forward by vested interests will win out and the Government is clearly seeking to avoid the political pain of the final decision.
The motion passed by the Bass Coast Shire Council on 20 May 2015 to ensure that Bass Coast is part of the Infrastructure Victoria considerations is clearly vital for the Bass region’s future. With tourism contributing $653M to the Phillip Island (Bass Coast Shire) economy in 2012-13 representing, 37.9% of gross regional product, employing 5700 people and providing 38.2% of regional employment the adverse impact of a container port could devastate the economy.
Recreational boating adds a further estimated $500PA to the Westernport economy and helps support many businesses in Bass Coast. Non tourist related visitation to the region together with the existing quality of life and the enjoyment of the environment are not included in these monetary assessments.
Bass Coast Council has committed to work with key stakeholders including tourism operators and bodies, recreational boating and fishing groups as well as community groups in developing a comprehensive submission to Infrastructure Victoria that provides analysis on the costs to the Bass Coast economy, environment and community.
Proposed Lease of the Port of Melbourne
The Port of Melbourne lease Bill was announced by the Premier Daniel Andrews 27 May 2015. The lease Bill is linked to level crossing replacement policy of the Government and contains clauses about length of the lease and obligation of the successful bidder. The Premier stated:
“The leaseholder will be responsible for maintaining and improving the port’ s operations, delivering efficiencies, boosting competitiveness and ensuring future port development is not compromised.”
As reported by ABC News reporter Jean Edwards on 27 June:
“Mr Pallas said he did not believe a second port would be built before Port of Melbourne reached capacity, ‘given the amount of time that would be required to actually establish and develop a port’.
Compensation would not need to be paid if a second port was built after the Port of Melbourne had reached capacity.”
The Port of Melbourne Bill needs to pass through Parliament and it is expected to be hotly debated in the Upper House.
The final details of the lease Bill adds to all the other unknowns around the timing of a new container port, including the market demand for more containers; Infrastructure Victoria’s analysis; the changes at the Port of Melbourne that a private investor will bring; what deal the Government will strike with the successful bidder and how potential compensation issues are managed.
Whilst the timing for the need for another container port is unknown the recommendation to the Government of the location of another container port by Infrastructure Victoria will happen.
The future location of a container port at Hastings will be known in the next year or two to allow the Government to legislate the decision before the end of their term.
Mr Luke Donnellan, Minister for Ports told the Public accounts and Estimates Committee on 22 May 2015:
“...we are expecting the Port of Hastings Development Authority to chase opportunities in bulk to continue to grow the port down there. We think there are good opportunities down there. There are enormous opportunities, obviously, in relation to storage of petroleum, because we are importing so much petroleum now. I would also like to see them look at chasing down business in the energy sector, because the Latrobe Valley has enormous brown coal deposits, gas and so forth.”
The prospects of brown coal exports will face many obstacles and strident opposition from many business, consumer and environment groups.
We believe the Government should establish Infrastructure Victoria as soon as possible to provide certainty for Hastings and Bay West.
Viable alternatives to industrialisation of Westernport exist and the region needs certainty to pursue sustainable developments that support the tourism and recreational boating industries.
We encourage the community to lobby the State Government with their concerns about a container port at Hastings.
The threat has not gone away!
Media Enquiries: Jeff Nottle 0419 158 232
A huge thank you to Councillors Clare Le Serve and Phil Wright on passing a motion at the recent Bass Coast Shire meeting to ensure that both Victorian and Australian Government Infrastructure organisations are made aware of the significance of Westernport and its importance to the Bass Coast Shire in regard to the Environment, Tourism and Jobs. Here is the excert from the minutes;
'Reinforcing Council’s position in relation to the Port of Hastings development - Cr Clare Le Serve Council Decision Moved: Cr. Clare Le Serve / Seconded: Cr. Phil Wright
That the Mayor 1. write to the Special Minister of State and the Minister for Ports reinforcing Council’s position in relation to the Port of Hastings.
2. request that the Ministers instruct the soon to be established Infrastructure Victoria to engage with Bass Coast Shire Council on the future of the Port of Hastings, given the importance of Westernport to the Victorian and Australian economy and environment: •
Supporting sustainable environmentally sensitive development in Westernport; • Working with key stakeholders including tourism operators and bodies, recreational boating and fishing groups as well as community groups; •
Developing a comprehensive submission to Infrastructure Victoria that provides analysis on the costs to the Bass Coast economy, environment and community; and •
Developing the submission to Infrastructure Victoria in conjunction with the key Bass Coast stakeholder groups.'
Here is the information:
Connecting people with our environment
Join the Green Army! Is this for you?
Are you aged between 17 and 24, an Australian citizen or permanent resident and would like to be a part of a team that will make a REAL difference to the environment in your local community?
Would you like to be paid an allowance while gaining skills, training and experience that can help you enter the workforce, improve your career opportunities or further your education and training?
Then the GREEN ARMY is for you.
The Green Army is an Australian Government initiative open to young people including Indigenous Australians, school leavers, gap year students, graduates and job seekers who are looking to develop skills, undertake training and gain experience in the delivery of conservation projects. Through this, participants will enhance opportunities for careers and further training in conservation.
Phillip Island – Protection and enhancement of habitat in Bass Coast
The project offers a wide range of experiences in the ongoing protection and re-establishment of penguin habitat across the Summerland Peninsula and in habitat corridors in Phillip Island and the Bass Coast region.
The project will:
Reverse the long-term decline in the extent and quality of Australian native vegetation
Protect and restore habitat-suitable vegetation for penguins, migratory birds and koalas
Complete the application form on www.conservationvolunteers.com.au/green-army
Phone: (03) 5136 5875 or (03) 9326 8250