The public hearing for the Gas Import Jetty and Pipeline Project (EES) ended on Thursday 17 December 2020.
The Inquiry and Advisory Committee (IAC) hearing enabled an open and thorough investigation of potential environmental effects, assessed through expert input, and public submissions. The IAC heard presentations supporting the Project and concerns expressed by submitters.
What happened during the hearing?
Over 800 people attended over the duration of the 10-week hearing which was held by video-conference due to the Victorian Government COVID-19 restrictions.
The IAC heard evidence from 49 expert witnesses (24 of which were called by AGL and APA and 25 of which were called by other parties). The IAC also heard around 180 submissions from organisations and individuals including the EPA Victoria, local councils, Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation, environment and community groups, and members of the community. The daily recordings are available on the Engage Victoria website and will be removed three months after the IAC submits its report to the Minister for Planning.
The next step is for the IAC to consider all submissions and evidence and write a report setting out its recommendations for the Minister for Planning. The report will be submitted to the Minister for Planning by close of business on 22 February 2021.
The Minister will then make his assessment, after which both the IAC report and the Minister's assessment will be publicly released. We expect the Minister's assessment and IAC report to be publicly available by the end of March 2021.
The Minister’s assessment must be considered by relevant Victorian statutory decision-makers responsible for determining key approvals for the Project.
The Commonwealth Minister for the Environment must also consider the Victorian Minister’s assessment before deciding whether to grant approvals under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity and Conservation Act, and if so under what conditions.
If the Project gains all required approvals, construction would begin shortly afterwards and take approximately 18 to 27 months. Construction of the pipeline would occur over a 12- 18 month period.