Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers announced this week that it had signed an memorandum of understanding with Flinders Ports to “achieve a port operating model”.
The model is for its proposed woodchip and log exporting seaport at Smith Bay on the north coast of Kangaroo Island.
KIPT managing director John Sergeant said his company had requested Flinders Ports put together an operational model for the seaport.
Flinders Ports had also been “granted a period of exclusivity” to develop the model, and was already a respected operator of ports around South Australia, he said.
Adjoining abalone farming operation Yumbah Aquaculture was however critical of KIPT signing the MoU prior to the development being approved or the Environmental Impact Statement being released.
“KIPT tells its shareholders about another quasi-agreement with yet another third party, this time a Memorandum of Understanding with Flinders Ports to ‘...achieve a port operating model that is designed to produce an optimal solution..’ Yumbah general manager Dave Connell said.
“Behind the corporate speak is the most serious question: how can an Environmental Impact Statement for the KI Seaport be considered in any seriousness when the proponent clearly doesn’t know what it’s going to do with its proposed port, and doesn’t even have an operating model against which the impacts of its proposal can be assessed?”
Mr Sergeant said KIPT was aware of the impacts its model of port operations would have and these were in the EIS.
But he said the company would not have agreements in place for either the port operation or harvesting and handling on land, until after the seaport was approved.
“It’s not feasible nor sensible to have all our operational contracts in place before approval,” he said. “If we did, I am sure Yumbah would be criticising us for being presumptuous.”
Mr Sergeant said he was still expecting the State Government to release the EIS for public comment early in the year.
Meanwhile, Yumbah Aquaculture says it is stuck in limbo as it waits for the release of KIPT’s Smith Bay EIS.
“Yumbah relies on Smith Bay’s pristine marine environment to run its abalone farm and these announcements only add to the company’s frustration regarding the devastating impact this proposal will have on its ability to continue operating,” Mr Connell said.
“As long as the proposal is undecided, Yumbah is unable to expand to meet the growing global demand for high quality abalone from Kangaroo Island.”