Smith Bay port information sessions held on KI this week

PROTEST SIGN: A protest sign on North Coast Road lists the concerns of local residents about the potential for increased traffic as the result of the construction of Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers proposed port at Smith Bay.
PROTEST SIGN: A protest sign on North Coast Road lists the concerns of local residents about the potential for increased traffic as the result of the construction of Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers proposed port at Smith Bay.

Kangaroo Island residents are encouraged to attend information sessions this week about a proposed timber export port at Smith Bay.

The SA Government on Thursday, March 28 released the Environmental Impact Statement for Kangaroo Island Plantation Timber's proposed port at Smith Bay.

The 1500-page EIS is now on public consultation until May 28 and is available online and at the council chambers.

The Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure will host public information sessions from 1pm to 7pm on Wednesday, May 1 at the Kingscote Town Hall and then from 11am to 4pm on Thursday, May 2 at the Parndana Town Hall. There will also be a session in Adelaide on May 7.

Environmental not-for-profit organisation AusOcean meanwhile has just released its Smith Bay Marine Ecology Report, which highlights what it says will be inevitable damage to the marine environment if the proposed wood-chip storage facility and port in the area goes ahead.

Another concern in the community is the impact on local roads, residents and wildlife from trucks delivering timber to the port at Smith Bay.

KIPT's director of community engagement Shauna Black said an optimal route had been identified, but the company was working with the KI Council to determine specifics.

A representative from KIPT was due to attend Tuesday's informal gathering of the council to speak to the issue.

"Our aim is to use the safest possible route between the plantations and the port, with the largest capacity vehicles that are permitted," Ms Black said. "Using high productivity vehicles, like A and B doubles, will minimise vehicle movements.

"We have identified an optimal route and, if and when the wharf is approved, we look forward to continuing our discussions with council, PIRSA, DPTI and the Commonwealth about making it suitable for these vehicles.

"If these discussions are not successful, we will have to use semi-trailers, resulting in more frequent vehicle movements and poorer safety outcomes. I urge those with a real interest to read Chapter 21 of the EIS, which deals with these issues in detail."

Regarding who would pay for any required road upgrades, this too had yet to be determined.

"The wharf has not been approved, so it is not possible to have a funding agreement in place with the state and local governments, which own the roads," she said.

"The South Australian and Commonwealth governments have funds available for roads servicing key pieces of infrastructure. We look forward to working with the council to ensure that these funds are accessed at the appropriate time."

The EIS meanwhile addresses the project's potential impact on species the southern right whale, echidna, hooded plover and the southern brown bandicoot.

Ms Black said the Smith Bay project was referred under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act by KIPT itself.

"The EIS finds no impact on three of them," she said. "The EIS details the impact as well as mitigation and offsets for the Kangaroo Island echidna. I urge readers to see Chapter 14 of the EIS where the detailed assessment is available."

There has also been concern raised about the what will happen to the estimated 25,000 koalas in the plantations once harvest begins.

"KIPT has engaged with DEW staff on Kangaroo Island, the State Steering Committee on Koalas and the new International Koala Centre of Excellence based in Adelaide," Ms Black said.

"Koalas are not addressed in the EIS because it deals with the Smith Bay Wharf proposal. KIPT and its contractors will deal with koalas in a humane way, guided by established mainland forestry practice."

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