THE Preserve Western Port Action Group has been pleased with the support shown for its response paper opposing the Port of Hastings.
Infrastructure Victoria has sought submissions in response to a recently released discussion paper on where a second container port for Melbourne should be located.
The State Government has requested Infrastructure Victoria to provide advice on a preferred site for the container port by May and decide on either Hastings or Bay West in Port Phillip Bay.
The response paper by the Preserve Western Port Action Group has been endorsed by the Destination Phillip Island regional tourist board, Phillip Island Conservation Society, Phillip Island Tourism Association, Bass Coast Shire Council, Bass Coast Mayor Cr Pamela Rothfield, Island Ward councillor Michael Whelan and Western Port Ward councillors Clare Le Serve and Geoff Ellis.
After three years of hard work and lobbying by the Preserve Western Port Action Group, chairman Jeff Nottle said the unity of Phillip Island and the waterfront communities in supporting its submission is quite unique and the group is confident Infrastructure Victoria will rule out the Hastings option.
“Over the past three years, longstanding Western Port fisherman Kevin Chambers has made a significant contribution to protecting recreational fishing in Western Port,” he said.
“I know of no other person who has spent more time and energy in protecting Western Port fishing for current and future generations of recreational fishers.
“Kevin has been remarkable in his tireless engagement with hundreds of fishers as well as with 10 fishing clubs around Western Port.
“I believe his contribution has made a key impact on State Government decision makers and highlighted the value of fishing in Western Port to our economy and the state.”
The response paper points out that “In relation to environment and social impacts, it appears that great reliance of the impacts is placed on the GHD Second Container Port Advice Environment & Social Advice Final Draft February 2017 (GHD E&S Advice).
“The advice is only based on impacts on the coastal area on the western side of Western Port, where port development is proposed and the adjoining inland area interface near the townships of Hastings, Tyabb and Somerville,” the paper reads.
“At the same time it is recognised that some brief comments are provided on limited areas outside this narrow scope.
“We strongly believe this narrow scope of advice has left significant gaps in the key impacts that a container port would have on the Western Port region including Phillip Island.
“We believe that the assessments of the Hastings option need to consider the full impacts on the Western Port communities, economies and environment.”
The main issues highlighted by the paper are the impact on penguins and potential impacts on the tourism industry, the impact on Western Port communities’ amenity, the dredging impact on Western Port including erosion and inundation, impacts by ship movements in Western Port and Port Phillip Bay including ship stranding, pressure waves and oil spills, the impact on recreational fishing and boating and the impact on seagrass, mangroves, saltmarsh, marine life and Ramsar wetlands.