THE FEDERAL government has shut down plans to develop an offshore wind terminal at the Port of Hastings in Victoria.

Federal minister for the environment and water Tanya Plibersek rejected the proposal to develop the new port facility, highlighting “clearly unacceptable impacts” for surrounding wetlands and wildlife.

The Victorian government in March last year named Port of Hastings as the location of the proposed Victorian Renewable Energy Terminal.

According to Port of Hastings Corporation, the terminal at the Old Tyabb Reclamation Area would have delivered critical port capacity to assemble wind turbines and meet the state’s offshore wind targets.

Proposed development activities outlined in the government’s decision (made public on 8 January) included seabed reclamation for wharf infrastructure and development on existing and reclaimed lands to allow for storage of cargo and associated handling equipment.

The development could also have included dredging of up to 92 hectares within the protected Western Port Ramsar Wetland (WPRW) to increase depths for ship access to wharf infrastructure from the existing channel.

“I accept the department’s advice that it is clear that the impacts to the ecological character of the WPRW arising from the seabed reclamation and the creation of a new wharf would be unacceptable,” Ms Plibersek wrote in a statement on the decision.

She cited the Western Port Ramsar Wetland Ecological Character Description 2010 (ECD) which stated that “dredging may also threaten components of the Ramsar site such as bathymetry and habitat availability, particularly if the expansion of dredging activities is required for the development of the port”.

“I note that the ECD states that ‘pollution is a significant risk and could result from oil and chemical spills, discharge of ballast water, shipping accidents, marinas and launching ramps, sewage and bilge water, litter and other debris’,” she said.

“While I note the social and economic benefits of the proposed action, this does not change my view that it is clear that the impacts of the proposed action (which cannot be mitigated or offset) would result in unacceptable impacts on the ecological character of the WPRW.”

Port of Hastings Corporation confirmed it received a decision from the Commonwealth government for the Victorian Renewable Energy Terminal proposal as referred under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) in August last year.

“The decision, published on 5 January 2024, advised the proposal as referred would have unacceptable impacts on matters protected by the EPBC Act,” it said.

Port of Hastings Corporation said it is assessing the decision and considering other options.