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Adjournment: ESSO Hastings Gas Project

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Samantha Ratnam
Leader of the Victorian Greens
12 September 2022

Gas is a polluting fossil fuel, just like coal. Esso's new gas project in Hastings, Victoria should not be allowed to proceed.

This adjournment was made on 1 September 2022: 

My adjournment matter tonight is to the Minister for Planning. The action I seek from the minister is to conduct an environmental assessment of Esso’s proposal to build a new ethane gas power station at Hastings to the east of Melbourne. Esso is a company that operates oil and gas platforms and processing facilities around Melbourne. They currently produce ethane gas as a by-product of the fossil gas manufacturing process. Up until now they have piped this ethane to a customer in Altona for use in plastic manufacturing; however, I understand that the customer is reducing the amount of ethane it is using, so now Esso is looking for what they can do with the excess. What they have come up with is a proposal to burn it in a new gas-fired power station at Hastings.

This proposal is a big problem for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is irresponsible to even be considering new fossil fuel projects in 2022 as we continue to experience the impacts of the escalating climate crisis. It is convenient indeed that the greenhouse gas emissions for the project come in just under the trigger for an environment effects statement. Secondly, using ethane for power generation is a new and untested technology. No other gas power plant in Australia uses ethane, and even the turbines would have to be adapted from the methane ones. Ethane is more flammable than methane, and local residents are concerned about the safety risk, especially when Hastings is already the site of other hazardous substances. Thirdly, the proposal is likely to harm the local environment. The proposed site is next to the internationally significant Ramsar wetlands of Western Port Bay, only 700 metres from the high-water mark. Burning ethane near these wetlands could have impacts on the local environment, such as native plants and animals, including migratory birds and mangroves. Finally, the community around Hastings and Western Port Bay have had enough of destructive heavy industry in the region. Many members of the community have expressed their concerns about the project, as it is likely to have an impact on the health of the environment and the local community due to the air pollutants, noise, odours and artificial lighting from the proposal.

For all these reasons this project should not be allowed to proceed; however, the fact this project is being pushed through our planning system without a proper environmental assessment is even worse. So the action I seek is for the planning minister to urgently request an environment effects statement to fully and independently identify the impacts of Esso’s project on the climate and local environment.

Watch the full speech on YouTube here. 

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Samantha Ratnam
Leader of the Victorian Greens
12 September 2022
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