Concerns have been raised over Subsea 7’s last-minute request to the Environmental Protection Authority to change components of its Exmouth pipeline proposal.

Subsea 7 has submitted changes to the onshore pipeline fabrication facility, about 35km south of Exmouth, which would cause an additional 7ha of vegetation clearance, on top of the 170ha already proposed.

More importantly, it has admitted the launch and towing of the pipeline bundles through the Exmouth Gulf will cause up to 1464ha of seabed disturbance, when originally Subsea 7 claimed there would be none.

Protect Ningaloo campaigner Jeremy Tager said Subsea 7 had finally admitted to impacts it should have acknowledged and assessed more than a year ago.

“This is a crazy proposal for a globally significant ecosystem like Exmouth Gulf,” he said.

“This is Ningaloo’s nursery we’re talking about — it should be getting additional protection, not given over to the fossil fuel industry as a port and launch pad.”

Opinions are divided on whether the pipeline should go ahead, with the Exmouth Chamber of Commerce and Industry believing the project is necessary for employment in the town.“The community want employment and full-time jobs as long as it’s not at the expense of the environment,” chairman Barry Sullivan said.

“We work on the theory that there is a government agency in place that does the environmental process and as long as Subsea 7 gets through that process, we’re happy to see jobs and opportunities for the town.”

The EPA originally gave the public seven days to comment on Subsea 7’s proposal, but it said that had been extended by another week until March 15 because of the level of public interest.

After the public comment period, the EPA will consider any comments received and whether the proposed changes to the proposal are likely to significantly increase any impact on the environment.

Subsea 7 declined to respond to Pilbara News questions on the record.