MEDIA RELEASE 8 January 2024 |
The Allan Government must urgently put in place strict environmental protections for offshore energy projects after the federal veto of the Port of Hastings plan, leading conservationists say.
Federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek blocked the proposed port because of “unacceptable” and “irreversible” risks to native endangered wildlife in Western Port Bay’s Ramsar-listed wetlands.
The Victorian National Parks Association (VNPA) welcomed the decision as it highlighted the need for the State Government to better protect Western Port Bay from the effects of risky developments.
“This project risked an internationally protected wetland and bird sanctuary critical for 65% of Victoria’s threatened bird species,” VNPA’s nature campaigner Shannon Hurley said.
“The federal minister had no option other than blocking the proposal because of the threat of enormous environmental damage”
“While a fast transition from polluting to clean energy sources is necessary to avoid the extreme impacts of climate disruption, it cannot come at the cost of the marine environment.”
“An environmentally responsible offshore renewables sector requires a plan for how marine habitats and Western Port Bay’s precious wetlands will be protected.”
“Last year the State Government was presented with a proposal for a new plan for protecting Western Port Bay.
“If they don’t adopt the proposal the future of this unique environment will continue to be at risk from further developments.”
The Framework for Western Port Bay is a plan to protect the area’s precious wetlands and support sustainable marine and tourism industries.
VNPA, Western Port Biosphere Foundation and Save Westernport developed the framework, with support from Traditional Custodians, local business, tourism and nature protection groups.
“The decision demonstrates the Federal Minister using her powers to protect a Ramsar wetland – an area of international environmental significance and a major recreational and fishing area for all Victorians,” said Jane Carnegie from Save Westernport.
More information about the framework can be found at: www.actforwesternportbay.au