State panel finalises Viva hearings
GEELONG Grammar School and GeelongPort will lead a challenge to a planned Floating Gas Terminal at Corio Bay when public hearings on the proposal start next month.
An Independent Advisory Committee (IAC) is finalising details for the project’s final hearings, which will inform a recommendation it makes to Victorian Planning Minister Richard Wynne before a final approval decision.
GGS and GeelongPort flagged they intend to present extensive evidence against the plan and have been granted closing submissions, alongside the Environment Protection Authority and the proponent Viva Energy.
The City of Greater Geelong is required to provide evidence such as its planning scheme and details of projects or land use approvals likely to be impacted by the terminal, though it has indicated it will not make a closing submission.
Other parties calling expert evidence include the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning’s impact assessment and pipelines units, Ports Victoria and Australian Conservation Foundation Community Geelong – any of which could also ask to make closing submissions.
Viva released an Environment Effects Statement (EES) earlier this year as part of a state government investigation of the proposed terminal.
The EES drew more than 2000 submissions during the period, the vast majority of which were in opposition.
Viva plans to build a floating storage unit near its Geelong Refinery, which would take liquified natural gas from around the world for conversion and storage to meet an anticipated shortfall of the resource in coming years.
GGS’s Corio campus is about a kilometre north of the refinery, leading the school to take a strong stance against the proposal.
“The school is extremely concerned that the approval of the project will exacerbate the existing safety risk posed by the refinery to its students, staff and residents and further interfere with its ability to provide a safe, healthy, and productive environment for education,” GGS’s initial submission said.
The school also published a video, titled Save Our Bay, featuring students from its environment action team outlining GGS’s stance against the terminal.
GeelongPort, which manages land and infrastructure that Viva would develop as part of its expansion, is also set to provide expert witnesses against the plan that it said was “materially deficient”, and had the potential for “unacceptable impacts” to the Port of Geelong.
Parties will gather and circulate evidence and expert witnesses during the next month, before a site inspection at Viva’s Geelong Refinery and its surrounds on June 15 and 16, before hearings start on June 20.
The IAC expects hearings to last for about six weeks, though a precise timetable is yet to be determined.
Hearings are also likely to occur as a blend of in-person meetings at GHMBA Stadium and online.