TGS rejects consultation sessions in Aireys Inlet and Lorne

June 13, 2024 BY

The survey proposed by TGS and SLB involves using airguns to map the ocean floor, a process that has raised significant environmental concerns, particularly its impact on whales. Photo: GABRIEL DIZZI

GLOBAL energy data company TGS has declined to hold consultation sessions in Aireys Inlet and Lorne, continuing the controversy about its approach to community consultation regarding its planned seismic blasting project in the Otway Basin.

This decision follows TGS’s earlier refusal to hold an in-person consultation in Torquay, citing safety and logistical concerns.

The company’s actions have baffled residents and raised questions about the transparency of its consultation process.

Surfrider Foundation Australia (SFA) Surf Coast branch president John Foss highlighted the Surf Coast community’s interest in the project in a letter to TGS on May 18.

“Our community has many questions about your Environmental Plan and its impact on the coastal and marine environment,” Mr Foss wrote.

He suggested that a session in the Surf Coast area would better inform the community about the proposed activities.

“We would welcome TGS hosting a consultation session in Lorne or Aireys Inlet if that was easier for you,” Mr Foss wrote.


Lorne is usually considered to be a safe community. Photo: WE LOVE LORNE FACEBOOK PAGE


Last week, this newspaper reported Corangamite federal member Libby Coker’s request for a session in Torquay was rejected by TGS due to perceived safety concerns.

Now, the company has also deemed Lorne and Aireys Inlet too unsafe for a visit.

In a letter to Mr Foss, TGS director Tanya Johnstone stated: “The online activity of SFA members does not indicate that TGS will be provided a safe environment to share information and engage with your community.”

Mr Foss expressed disappointment at the response.

“Surfrider Foundation Surf Coast have extended a warm and open invitation for TGS to come to Torquay so that they might explain to our community their plans to seismic blast in the Otway Basin,” he said.

“Our community have many questions about the impact of seismic blasting on whales and other marine life.

“TGS have a duty to inform our community in a timely and appropriate manner.”


Aireys Inlet is usually thought to be a serene coastal town where the natural beauty and laid-back atmosphere offer a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle. Photo: THE GREAT OCEAN ROAD COLLECTIVE


Otway Coastal Environment Action Network (OCEAN) campaigner Lisa Deppeler said the Surf Coast was perfectly safe.

“I don’t believe TGS staff are frightened for their safety at all, instead they are fearful of more Australian people knowing about their proposal and greater scrutiny by NOPSEMA [National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority].

“Previous visits along the Victorian coast have been very peaceful and respectful. TGS has no bases for this statement.

“I suggest that TGS is trying to avoid a large crowd and media, which would bring attention to their project.

“They are excluding higher populations or areas of high interest.

“If more people knew the details of this particular proposal, there would be an uproar.”


Yaraan Couzens Bundle, a Keerray Woorroong and Gunditjmara Whale Dreaming Custodian, said the second round of consultation seemed more like a box-ticking exercise. Pictured: Yaraan Couzens Bundle (left) and Victorian Senator Lidia Thorpe (right) at a rally in Torquay on March 23, 2024. Photo: ANGUS SMITH



The three-dimensional multi-client marine seismic survey proposed by TGS and energy company SLB involves using airguns to map the ocean floor, a process that has raised significant environmental concerns.

The seismic blasts can reach 250 decibels, posing risks to marine life and fisheries.

The companies have applied for a controversial Special Prospecting Authority (SPA) permit to carry out the work.

In March, government regulator NOPSEMA returned the project’s Environment Plan to TGS for revisions, citing issues with the consultation process.

However, the subsequent round of community consultation in May has been criticised as “box-ticking” and failing to properly engage with the public, particularly First Nations communities.

The community drop-in sessions took place in Portland, Port Fairy, Warrnambool, and Apollo Bay, but none were scheduled for the Surf Coast.

TGS did not respond to requests for interview before this newspaper went to print.

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