The Department for Planning Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI) hosted two public information sessions on Kangaroo Island this week about the proposed timber exporting port at Smith Bay.
Representatives from the department, as well as from Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers and its environmental consultants, set up in the town halls at Kingscote and Parndana to answer any questions on the 1500-page environmental impact statement (EIS).
Opponents of the project concerned about the impact of the proposed port and timber harvesting set up outside on the steps of the hall.
These included a contingent of workers from the Yumbah abalone farm at Smith Bay, as well representatives from Kangaroo Island Victor Harbor Dolphin Watch and other concerned residents.
The opponents handed out cards listing their concerns and encouraging people to write to the planning minister.
Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers released a statement stating about 30 people visited the public information session at Kingscote on Wednesday.
KIPT managing director John Sergeant said it was valuable to have subject area experts available and there had been many meaningful conversations.
"We will take on board all the comments and address as many issues as we can in our response to the public consultation," Mr Sergeant said.
He said Yumbah and the other concerned residents outside were invited to come inside.
Major Project rules
A DPTI representative said under the Major Project status, the State planning minister would do an assessment of the proposal, then making a recommendation to Cabinet to approve or not, with the Governor then making the final decision.
There was no time frame for the process, but all the submissions and KIPT's responses to those submissions would eventually be made public.
The DPTI representative encouraged everyone to have say either for or against the proposal and listing specific concerns before the May 28 deadline.
When the project was first taken to the State Government for approval, the then Development Assessment Commission set the guidelines for the EIS and determined traffic and transport needed to be addressed, as well as the impact on the Island housing supply.
The approval for the proposed port like any other development approval was transferable if the proponent decided to sell the project, but there was a five-year time limit for its substantial works to commence, the DPTI representative said.
DPTI also confirmed that the State Government would not be funding any road improvements for the project, and this had been stated publicly in Hansard.
The day before the Kingscote EIS information session, the KI Council discussed the Smith Bay proposal at its informal gathering on Tuesday, April 30.
The first agenda item was a general discussion on the EIS and given the deadline for submissions was May 28, it was decided that the council would work on wording for a submission at the next full council meeting on Tuesday, May 14.
Later at last Tuesday informal gathering, council staff informed the councillors of the conditions of the roads earmarked by KIPT for the optimal route to deliver timber to the port.
The steep hill at Kohinoor meant that Stokes Bay Road was the only viable option to take the timber down to the coast, although the route along Bark Hut Road and then down McBrides Road was called into question.
Council staff informed the council that these unsealed secondary roads would not be able to handle substantial truck traffic without considerable improvements.
Mayor Michael Pengilly said the council was not going to be paying for any improvements to facilitate KIPT's project and that it had its own schedule of road improvements that local residents were relying on, with Hickmans Road being the main priority.
"This road needs to be upgraded as it is a major link between the south coast and Parndana and its improvement will help boost the economy of Parndana," he said.