By Rowan Forster
ONE of Victoria’s largest vegetable producers has waged war against a gas pipeline proposed to cut through Pakenham, amid fears it would “destroy their business”.
Lisa Corrigan, from Corrigan’s Produce Farms, said the route proposed by energy heavyweight APA will tarnish three of its four farms near Devon Meadows.
She said the planned 60 kilometre pipeline would “ruin her family’s livelihood” and jeopardise a number of farms on Cardinia’s fringes.
“This will destroy us and ruin five generations of family farming,” Mrs Corrigan said.
“We’re operating some of the largest machinery in Australia and we can’t operate across a pipeline, not to mention the risks of food contamination from the substances seeping into the soil.
“Nobody from APA or the Department of Health can tell us the risk to food safety that these contaminants under the ground could have.
“You’re taking an activity that is zero-risk and turning it into something that is high-risk.”
The infrastructure – touted to ease energy prices across Australia’s south-east – would run through 28 properties and 18.7 kilometres of private land between Pakenham and Crib Point.
The family-owned Corrigan’s Farm supplies Coles and Woolworths with a large variety of produce including leeks, cos lettuce, kale, celery and other vegetables.
Last year, the business produced 11 million cos lettuces and 5 million leeks.
Mrs Corrigan said the business has recently splashed millions on installing new sprinklers and building new dams, rendering relocation impossible.
“We don’t believe a high-pressure gas pipeline and a produce farm can co-exist,” she said.
The high pressure gas pipeline would connect AGL’s proposed Gas Import Jetty at Crib Point to the Victorian Transmission System, near Pakenham.
Rythdale farmer and former civil engineer Max Hobson devised an alternative route, which he claims cuts thorough half the number of properties.
He said he has shown the blueprint to a staffer for Energy Minister Lily D’A’brosio and received promising feedback.
“APA has made it abundantly clear in their information releases that no alternative route will be considered and their actions to date have reinforced this approach,” he said.
“The Minister has been made aware of this dictatorial approach.”
APA have organised community consultation sessions in Cardinia and Nar Nar Goon to hear concerns and answer community questions.
A spokesman for APA said the firm has carefully and thoroughly consulted with the community at each step of the process.
“APA commenced consultation with directly affected landowners and occupants along the proposed pipeline route in November last year, and those discussions are ongoing as we move into survey activities,” he said.
“Broader community information sessions have occurred at some points along the route, and further sessions will be held in the near future.”