Plans to access natural gas from a new discovery off the Port Campbell coast has cleared another hurdle, but not everyone is happy about it.
Opponents of the project say they are shocked and angered by the move to grant a gas production licence, and called on the state government to take immediate action to reverse the decision.
Earth Resources Regulation granted the Beach Energy Enterprise project a licence to access the new offshore natural gas discovery through an onshore well located west of Port Campbell.
But Beach Energy will require further approvals from Earth Resources Regulation, the Department of Land, Environment, Water and Planning and National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority before it can begin to produce gas discovered during its exploration of the area last year.
While the state government has commitment to net zero emissions by 2050, there is more than two million Victorian households and businesses which need access to a secure supply of gas.
Any production of gas by the Enterprise Project will be tightly regulated to protect public safety and the environment, and does not require any further drilling, the regulator said.
The gas field is located about two kilometres beneath the seafloor and more than 10 kilometres from the Twelve Apostles.
Earth Resources Regulation executive director Anthony Hurst said it would closely monitor the project to minimise any environmental impact.
The Southern Ocean Protection Embassy Collective said it was shocked and angered by the decision. The collective's founding member, Gunditjmara woman Yaraan Couzens-Bundle, said First Nations people were concerned about the potential damage to marine and cultural landscapes from "ongoing coastal industrialisation".
She said the waters most affected by the project were sacred birthing sites which are adjacent to the whale nursery at Logans Beach.
"Resource extractions of this volume will push the already rare Southern Right Whale and other significant cetaceans and sea life species to extinction," Ms Couzens-Bundle said.
Eastern Maar citizen and Senior Keerray Woorroong woman Dr Vicki Couzens condemned the Victorian government and organisations involved. "This decision shows a complete lack of foresight, care and respect for the 'living entity' of our mother ocean, our shared sea country," she said.
Otway Climate Emergency Action Network member Lisa Deppeler said it was demanding the Andrews government cancel the license immediately. "We are risking so much for gas we don't need," she said.
Groups say they are planning a day of action.
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