Public submissions and Yumbah’s response to request for further information

Public submissions in response to the additional information received from Yumbah closed on 24 January 2019. EPA received 40 submissions, with one of these a petition signed by 75 signatories. These are available for viewing in the ‘Supporting documents’ section of this page. On 22 January 2019, EPA issued Yumbah with a second request for further information on the proposed new abalone farm. A response by Yumbah was accepted by the EPA on 10 February 2019, with this additional information available for viewing in the ‘Supporting documents’ section of this page.

Community conference report available

EPA held a community conference on 19 December 2018. You can see the presentations from that evening and the independent facilitator's report in the 'Supporting documents' section on this page.

You should note that a joint works approval and planning permit application consultation process is being undertaken by EPA and the council. Some consideration of key planning issues was given at the conference, and the report contains a number of recommendations for the council to consider. However, as the community conference sits outside the Planning and Environment Act, the council is not legally obliged to consider any recommendations directed to it by the facilitator.

Following a review of the recommendations made in the report, EPA has requested further information from Yumbah Aquaculture. A copy of the formal section 22 notice for further information can be viewed in the 'Supporting documents' section of this page.

Response to request for further information

On 3 January 2019, EPA accepted Yumbah Aquaculture's response to our formal request for further information on the proposed new abalone farm.

You can read the response in the 'Supporting documents' section of this page.

Submissions on the Yumbah Aquaculture response will be open for 21 days from the date of publication. All comments must be made in writing, no later than 12pm on Tuesday 29 January 2019.

Submisions can be made by emailing worksapproval@epa.vic.gov.au or by mail:

EPA Victoria
GPO Box 4395
Melbourne VIC 3001

Please note that previous submissions, including all information obtained from the community (section 20B) conference on Wednesday 19 December 2018, will still be considered.

New submissions should be related to the additional information received, and should include:

  • your contact details, including an email address for future correspondence
  • the application number (1003316) and applicant name
  • your comments.

As submissions/comments received by EPA are part of a public consultation process, they may be made publicly available.

Background

Yumbah Aquaculture Limited (Yumbah) is proposing to build a new abalone farm, Yumbah Nyamat, at Bolwarra, providing pipeline access to Portland Bay.

On 29 October 2018, the business submitted a final works approval application for the farm to EPA, as required under section 19B(c) of the Environment Protection Act 1970.

Yumbah Aquaculture Limited (Yumbah) is proposing to build a new abalone farm, Yumbah Nyamat, at Bolwarra, providing pipeline access to Portland Bay. The proposed farm will include a hatchery, nursery and growout tanks, pumping seawater to the land-based farm, before discharging treated water through a series of outlet pipelines.

Yumbah currently operates an abalone farm at 68 Snapper Point Road, Narrawong, which produces 250 tonnes of abalone per annum for the Australian domestic and export market. Its EPA licence allows discharge of treated wastewater to Portland Bay.

Hard copy of the works approval application can be viewed at Glenelg Shire Council at 71 Cliff St, Portland.

Send written submissions regarding the application to:

A separate planning application is on Glenelg Shire Council’s website:

To enquire about the works approval application, email:

Yumbah Aquaculture Ltd proposes to construct a new abalone farm, Yumbah Nyamat, at Lots 1 and 8, 315 Dutton Way and Lot 2 Princes Highway, Bolwarra.

Producing 1000 tonnes of abalone per annum, Yumbah Nyamat will include a hatchery, nursery and growout tanks, pumping seawater to the land-based farm before discharging treated water through a series of outlet pipelines into Portland Bay.

The site is within an area zoned as Rural Living and was selected for its proximity and access to clean seawater necessary for optimum abalone growth and its low-lying topography, reducing energy consumption from pumping very large quantities of seawater through the farm. The low-lying land is protected by a rock armour seawall, providing protection from coastal erosion and future coastal impacts such as rising sea level.

The main development area is in the low-lying land in the southern portion of the site. Inlet and outfall pipelines will also extend southwards from the main part of the site in four easement corridors into Portland Bay. The closest residential receptors are located directly immediately to the north, between 76 and 297m to the southeast, 9 and 40m to the south and 48 m to the west of the activity boundary.

Wastewater from the abalone farm will pass through an onsite treatment system prior to discharge. In addition to reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions from having a low pump head and efficient pump system, an onsite solar farm will provide up to 30 per cent of the farm’s energy needs.

Key environmental issues are

  • discharge of wastewater into Portland Bay and the potential effects of the discharge
  • energy consumption
  • noise generated from the pumps
  • air emissions
  • construction and operational environmental management
  • climate-change adaptation and resilience
  • biosecurity.
EPA will assess whether the proposal will comply with the Environment Protection Act 1970 and relevant SEPPs to protect the environment and public health.

A works approval is a statutory approval issued by EPA. It permits, subject to certain conditions, the construction of a plant (such as an industrial facility), installation of equipment or modification of a process.

Approval is required for industrial and waste management works that may result in any of the following:

  • discharge of waste into the environment (air, water or land)
  • an increase in, or alteration to, an existing discharge
  • a change in the way waste is treated or stored.

Our works approval process is designed to ensure the best and most cost-effective environmental outcomes on projects are achieved. Without works approvals there is an increased risk of industrial projects causing pollution and requiring expensive retrofitting. Works approvals are an opportunity to save energy and water, and to reduce waste at the project design stage, creating value for a business.

Public participation is an important principle of the Environment Protection Act 1970 and the works approval process. Accordingly, we invite the public to comment on works approval applications and some types of licence applications over a set consultation period.

During this consultation period, we may hold public open-house information sessions to explain the works approval process and provide information on the works approval application. We consider all such comments during our assessment of these applications. Applications are also referred to other relevant agencies for their review and advice.

The works approval process is designed to identify any community concerns early on and allow prompt resolution. If comments are received from any third parties, we give applicants an opportunity to address the concerns raised. We may also convene a conference of the parties to assist in resolving those concerns.

We complete our assessment taking into account our own technical appraisals, referral agency responses, public comments received and any applicant responses. We will then decide whether to issue a works approval and whether to attach any conditions to the approval.

The Environment Protection Act requires us to make a decision on works approval applications within four months of receiving a complete application, although we aim to complete our determination in three months. We may request further information from the applicant during the process or require an extension of time to complete the assessment.

If an appeal, by the applicant or affected third parties, is made against a works approval decision and/or any conditions attached to a works approval, the appeal will be heard by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

When a works approval has been issued, the applicant must construct the works in accordance with the approved plans and any conditions (which include a completion date for all works). When the works are complete, the applicant must contact EPA to arrange an inspection of them.

In most cases, a licence will then be required for operation of the works. Where appropriate, we will issue a commissioning approval before the licence, to allow startup and testing of initial operations and to confirm compliance with the works approval.

Further information on works approvals and EPA’s works approval process can be found in EPA works approvals (publication 1523).

A planning permit application has been concurrently submitted to Glenelg Shrie Council and is under consideration.

Additional consents also required include Coastal and Marine Act, Cultural Heritage and Works on Waterways, as well as a building permit.

EPA received 338 submissions from the public and arranged for an independently chaired community conference to be held at Portland Civic Hall on Wednesday, 19 December 2018.

The purpose of the facilitated 20B community conference was:

  • for EPA (and Glenelg Shire Council) to gain a better understanding of community concerns and issues that need to be considered
  • to help explain the works approval and planning permission applications, the assessment process and their current statuses
  • to identify potential resolutions for the application.

Read the agenda, key issues for discussion and presentations given at the conference in the ‘Supporting documents’ section on this page.

Following the conference, the chair will prepare a report that summarises all concerns raised, providing recommendations that EPA must consider in its assessment and identifying potential resolutions for the application. This report will be published on this page.

No final decision regarding the works approval or planning permit applications was made at the conference.

As a joint works approval and planning permit application consultation process is being undertaken by EPA and the council, some consideration of key planning issues was allowed for in the agenda. However, as the community conference sits outside the Planning and Environment Act, the council is not legally obliged to consider any recommendations to the council by the facilitator.

EPA held a community conference on 19 December 2018. You can see the presentations from that evening in the ‘Supporting documents’ section on this page.

EPA issued Yumbah Aquaculture a notice under section 22 of the Environment Protection Act, which requires the company to provide the following information:

  • a response to all submissions
  • a hydrogeological assessment
  • a draft biosecurity plan
  • a response to the Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning’s request for further information to accompany the company’s Marine & Coastal Act application
  • an assessment of the risk of respirable crystalline silica (RCS) that may be generated during construction activities.

Additional information

Consultation on the application and an associated planning permit application with the Glenelg Shire Council began on 31 October. By 30 November, Glenelg Shire Council and EPA received 337 submissions (including three petitions of signed objections by 608, 514 and 178 individuals) from the public and stakeholders. See ‘Submissions’ under ‘Supporting documents’ on this page.

EPA and the council held a joint information session for the public, attended by more than 100 community members and interested stakeholders, on 12 November.

EPA is looking to make a decision on the works approval application in late February 2019 and will seek the advice of the Victorian Fisheries Authority and Agriculture Victoria on any potential biosecurity risks.

Yumbah operates an existing abalone farm in the Portland area at Narrawong. This is licensed and went through a works approval process in 2015 to expand the site.

EPA’s works approval alone does not give the Yumbah abalone farm project the go-ahead; it must also receive planning permission from Glenelg Shire Council.