2000 submissions on controversial gas hub

A PROPOSED Floating Gas Terminal at Corio Bay has drawn more than 2000 submissions as a state planning panel finalises dates for public hearings as part of an approval process.

Councillors, climate lobbyists, community groups, Geelong nurses, federal election candidates, schools and sports clubs were among the 2043 submissions on the project’s environment impact reports – of which 168 indicated they would like to speak to their submission during a state government hearing process.

An advisory committee will soon consider the community’s view on the terminal before a report and recommendation to the Planning Minister.

Proponent Viva Energy developed an Environment Effects Statement (EES) alongside the state government as part of the project’s planning, which the public had six weeks to scrutinise.

The mammoth 13,000-page document included Viva-commissioned technical reports on environmental impacts of its planned terminal.

Environment-focused groups featured heavily in the submissions list and assisted community members to raise their views during the process, targeting an outcome consistent with the rejection of a similar project near the Mornington Peninsula early last year.

Australian Greens member and City of Greater Geelong councillor Sarah Mansfield made an individual submission against the proposal, which pointed to concerns about the gas terminal’s ramifications for COGG’s target of net zero by 2035.

“The justifications for the project … are unsound, and must be thoroughly and independently scrutinized submission,” Ms Mansfield’s said.

“This project presents substantial risks to the health and safety of my community and the local environment.”

COGG made its own organizational submission outlining community concerns and calling for a reference group for future decision making – but declined to take a stand for or against the project.

Geelong Grammar School was also among the opponents, with the school publishing a video of students speaking out against the plan alongside its submission.

GeelongPort raised a host of concerns with Viva’s plans and flagged a substantial challenge during the hearings process where it will call on expert evidence to speak against the proposal.

While the majority of submissions were in opposition, the terminal project also found support from prominent local organisations.

Geelong Football Club was one of the highest-profile backers of the Viva proposal. Club chief financial officer Simon Kelleher said the club and the refinery “are two iconic Geelong institutions”, and praised Viva for its community initiatives and the project’s job creation opportunities.

Geelong Chamber of Commerce was also in favor of the project.

“We are pleased with the level of stakeholder consultation and satisfied that the project will provide a non-permanent solution to Victoria’s escalating gas needs as we transition to renewables,” chair John Stekelenburg’s submission said.

All 2043 submissions are published in full on the Engage Victoria website.

The panel had a directions hearing on May 5 which will confirm dates for future public hearings that are due to begin next month.

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