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Port Hastings Expansion: Environmental Issues Report

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Updated: Jun 14th, 2020

Introduction

The Port of Hastings has always played a significant role in the Australian shipping industry. According to experts, the country’s shipping industry will grow significantly in the coming years. This situation explains why the Victorian Government plans to expand the Port of Hastings. This paper analyses the issues surrounding the expansion of the Port of Hastings. The discussion identifies some of the key players in this issue. The paper analyses the environmental issues associated with the project. The report presents my views and recommendations for this project.

What does the Hastings Port Expansion project involve and who is the project proponent?

The Port of Hastings will remain a key area in the Australian shipping sector. The port will also serve different regions such as Victoria and Melbourne. The approach will be ‘critical towards supporting the proposed expansion in container operations’ (Port of Hastings: Port Expansion: About the Project 2014, par. 3). After identifying the potential benefits of the project, the Victorian Government has committed over $110 million towards the port’s expansion. The government also expects the proponent of the project to obtain all appropriate environmental and planning documentations (Port of Hastings: Port Expansion: About the Project 2014). Such efforts are critical to the success of the project. The Government of Victoria established the Port of Hastings Development Authority (PHDA) to oversee every activity aimed at expanding the harbour. The government-appointed the PDHA to act as the proponent of the project. The PDHA is presently undertaking the relevant environmental assessments and surveys before starting the project. The minister also expects the proponent to create the best business case.

Who are the key players in this issue, and what are their positions on the proposed development?

Every project must have specific key players. Such players determine the effectiveness and implications of the project. The first key player in the issue is the Westernport and Peninsula Protection Council Incorporation. This council is opposed to the proposed project because it will degrade the environment. According to the organisation, the decision will pose a major threat due to marine pests. The project will also cause oil spills. The other player is the Government of Victoria. According to the Government of Victoria, this port is one of the best areas to expand (Wathern 2013). The government expects the new port to promote trade and economic development.

Associations map
Associations map

The Victorian National Parks Association is another key stakeholder. This association is planning to educate more citizens about the impacts of the project. The association believes that the project will have negative impacts on Westernport Bay. The agency has conducted various studies to establish potential impacts of the proposed project (Wathern 2013). Blue Wedges is another agency trying to protect the environment from this project. According to the agency, the plan will contaminate the area and increase toxic wastes. The project has the potential to produce disastrous weather events. A local group called Preserve Western Port is working hard to preserve and protect the environment. The group is working with local communities in order to protect the region from degradation and pollution.

What are the potential environmental impacts of the Port of Hastings development?

Potential Environmental Impacts
KeyThemes Impacts
Social Improve people’s living conditions
Loss of recreational facilities
Increased health problems
Increased noise levels
Restriction to the port while under construction
Economic Promote economic sustainability
The people will not benefit from tourism due to environmental destruction.
The government will use numerous financial resources.
Transform the country’s tourism industry
Generate hundreds of jobs
Improvement of marine-related businesses
Environmental Loss of habitats
Increased sea-levels
Death of species due to environmental disturbance
Pollution and environmental deterioration
Increased oil spills
Loss of fishing areas
Global warming due to extreme weather changes
Flooding and erosion in the coastal region

The above checklist explains why this proposed project might produce numerous impacts. The expansion of Port Hastings will produce a wide range of socio-economic impacts. The project will result in new job opportunities and business activities. The port ‘might support the region’s economy’ (Platt 2014, p. 1). However, the project will have disastrous effects at the local level. People will lose their recreational facilities and beaches. The locals will have to deal with increased noise levels and traffic (Carey & Gordon 2014). The people will be restricted from using the port. However, a proper plan and proposal will ensure the expansion creates new recreational facilities. The government will use financial resources to support the project. According to Wathern (2013, p. 54), ‘the completed port might transform the country’s tourism industry’.

The expansion of Hastings Port is a good example of such projects. Some of the ‘projected environmental impacts include loss of habitats and increased sea levels’ (Raff 2014, p. 3). The project will also ‘affect different species due to increased disturbance and pollution’ (Platt 2014, p. 1). The project will significantly result in environmental deterioration. The people will have to cope with increased oil spills and loss of their fishing zones. Global warming might become a reality due to extreme weather changes. Flooding and erosion in the coastal region will also become major problems.

What is another technique that could be used to predict and assess the potential environmental impacts of this development?

Engineers and researchers use quality tools to analyse the potential environmental impacts of different projects. Some ‘of the best assessment techniques include networks, overlays, checklists, and matrices’ (Wathern 2013, p. 27). The proponents and stakeholders of the project can use matrices to evaluate the implications of this project. Matrices are ‘effective because they make it easier for researchers to analyse the interaction between different environmental components and project activities’ (Wathern 2013, p. 32). These two-dimensional charts facilitate the assessment of different stages and activities. The tool makes it possible for researchers to predict the impacts of different practices or activities. This technique ‘is used in Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) because it establishes how various activities affect different environmental components’ (Wathern 2013, p. 39). Engineers can use the tool to make appropriate decisions. This EIA tool has unique advantages. The tool describes the relationship between two or more factors. Researchers can ‘expand the tool in order to meet their targeted needs’ (Eccleston 2011, p. 65). This tool identifies the impacts of specific phases and stages of a project. Engineers can ‘use the tool to separate site-specific implications from those affecting the targeted region’ (Platt 2014, p. 1). The method has several weaknesses. The researcher might not get every required detail or information. The method is also labour-intensive. Engineers must gather their data from different players and stakeholders. Accuracy and dedication are critical whenever using this assessment tool.

What is the significance of the project’s environmental impact?

The checklist presented in question 4 identifies several impacts arising from the proposed project. The most critical issue is the project’s environmental impact. The word ‘significance refers to the importance or quality of deserving necessary attention’ (Wathern 2013, p. 73). I have chosen ‘the environmental impact within the context of this definition because it determines the future of different organisms and people’ (Wathern 2013, p. 78). The environment has always supported life. It ‘also guarantees posterity’ (Kirkman 2014, p. 6). The targeted port supports different animals, insects, and plants. The decision to expand the port will affect many natural habitats. The project will also affect every food chain. The project will also disturb the natural environment. The proposed project will also disturb many animal species. These animals will migrate thus destroying the beauty of the port. The increased levels of pollution will ‘affect the surrounding environment and make inappropriate for human survival’ (Kirkman 2014, p. 6). The completed project will attract more container ships.

The economic activities at the port will increase oil spills, thus killing different aquatic animals and plants. People will lose their fishing areas or zones. According to Carey and Gordon (2014), the project will ‘also destroy the environment, increase sea levels, and eventually promote global warming’ (par. 4). This development will produce new weather changes. Floods and soil erosions will become common in the region. The world is working hard to reduce the impacts of climate change. The Government of Victoria should analyse the impacts of this project. The government should examine the environmental issues associated with this expansion before making its final decision. The approach will safeguard many lives and natural habitats.

What are the key planning stages for this development? What surveys are currently being undertaken?

The proposed Port of Hastings development is characterised by key planning stages. Planning is what determines the success of any project. The first stage is analysing the benefits of the proposed project. The next one is identifying the areas covered by the project. The other critical stage is conducting various surveys in order to establish the appropriateness of the project. Project Assessment Process (PAP) is also a critical stage for this expansion. The next stage is to create the best engineering design using the collected information. The next approach is to identify the resources and efforts required to complete the project. Topographic surveys are critical towards mapping the physical attributes of the targeted port. Marine geotechnical surveys will make it easier for every planner to have the best plan for the proposed expansion (Port of Hastings: Port Expansion: About the Project 2014). The Port of Hastings Development Authority (PHDA) is currently conducting new surveys to examine the environmental implications of the project. The important thing is to ensure such surveys are in accordance with the required laws.

Although this development is still taking shape and details are yet to be finalised, what is your view at this stage?

The Port of Hastings project is still taking shape. The project’s details are yet to be finalised. My view is that the Government of Victoria is dedicated to the project’s success. The proponents of the project have undertaken various surveys and studies in order to establish its impacts. The current stage explains why more studies are required in order to address the above impacts (Platt, 2014). This project will present two issues to the people. The first one is supporting people’s economic positions due to increased activities. The second issue arises from the projected degradation of the environment.

In conclusion, it is agreeable that the government might not abandon this project despite the efforts availed by different associations and corporations. The port will also affect the surrounding environment and destroy various habitats (Raff, 2014). People will lose their recreational facilities and beaches. I will not support this project because it has the potential to affect the natural environment. The Victorian Government should, therefore, address these impacts before undertaking the project.

List of References

Carey, A & Gordon, J 2014, , The Age Victoria, Web.

Eccleston, C 2011, Environmental Impact Assessment: A Guide to Best Professional Practice, CRC Press, Sydney.

Kirkman, H 2014, Impact of proposed Port of Hastings expansion on sea-grass, mangroves and salt marsh, Web.

Platt, K 2014, Government Pressured Over Port Plans, Web.

Port of Hastings: Port Expansion: About the Project 2014, Web.

Raff, A 2014, Future Plans for the Port of Hastings: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, Web.

Wathern, P 2013, Environmental Impact Assessment: Theory and Practice, Routledge, New York.

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