By Brendan Rees
A group of Casey residents are fighting to get a proposed high-pressure gas pipeline rerouted – with farmers fearing their livelihoods could be lost.
They are unhappy with a proposal from energy heavyweight APA to build a 60 kilometre pipeline from Crib Point to Pakenham that will cut through their properties.
Fighting to save her farm is Lisa Corrigan, from Corrigan’s Produce Farms in Devon Meadows – Australia’s biggest producer of kale and growing millions of dollars of vegetables of year.
She says she understood the need for the pipeline but running it under their prime vegetable land was not the place to put it as it would pose a risk to contaminating their fertile soil.
“It’s a cheap nasty route and they (APA) do not care about farmers or fresh food,” she said.
“The number priority should be to avoid high production agricultural land. Our concern is that it will impede our ability to farm the land which in turn impacts our contribution to Melbourne food bowl,” she said.
“We need food and we need energy, let’s go the common sense reasonable route and align the pipeline along the boundary of the farm so that we can have both,” Ms Corrigan said.
Ms Corrigan added the proposed pipeline would “destroy and devastate prime Victorian soil.”
“This is precious agricultural land. The only reason that we’ve been given from APA is cost – it would cost them too much money.”
City of Casey Mayor Cr Geoff Ablett tabled a 159-strong petition opposing the plan at a 3 July council meeting.
Council will now call on the State Government to develop an alternative route for the pipeline so the food bowl within the green wedge is not disrupted.
“It’s not just people who own farms either, its people who are concerned that why should someone be able to come in and halt so much food growing,” Cr Ablett said.
He said an alternative route may be more expensive but would not impact the farming crops, adding it would be a “Pretty sensible outcome one would think.”
AGL proposes to develop a gas import facility at Crib Point to deliver gas to Victorians.
Minister for Energy Lily D’Ambrosio said: “We support this facility because of its potential to bring cheaper gas into Victoria, help drive down energy prices and boost the reliability of gas supply.
“However, strict environmental requirements will need to be met before any decisions are made,” she said.
APA understands landowners will naturally have questions and concerns about the potential impacts of a new pipeline construction.
A spokesperson for the APA said the pipeline would “not run under any part” of the Corrigan’s existing market gardens.
“Our approach is to talk with landowners to better understand the current and planned uses of their land. That way we can work together to address environmental and other concerns, and minimise disruptions,” he said.
Member for Hasting Neale Burgess said APA had acted like “dictators,” forcing their pipeline plan onto private properties while other options existed.