KI Council rejects Smith Bay as location for KIPT port

MAY MEETING: The May meeting of the Kangaroo Island Council saw councillors discuss KIPT's port proposal.
MAY MEETING: The May meeting of the Kangaroo Island Council saw councillors discuss KIPT's port proposal.

The KI Council at its May meeting on Tuesday, May 15 strongly opposed Smith Bay as the location for KI Plantation Timbers' proposed timber exporting port.

Councillors unanimously passed three motions put forward by clr Graham Walkom and voted 5-1 on a fourth, to look at additional possible locations west of Stokes Bay, away from tourism, local traffic and closer to the plantations.

Clr Leeza Irwin voted against the fourth motion on the basis she did not have sufficient information regarding more westerly options.

Clr Walkom's other motions stated council did not believe it was feasible to have a single-use port at Smith Bay and that the Yumbah abalone farm and KIPT should both be allowed to exist without compromise or dispute.

Councillors on Tuesday also wanted to strengthen the language in the draft 6-page submission prepared by council staff, written taking into account the KI Development Plan.

Listening intently the gallery were KIPT director Shauna Black and approval manager Peter Lockett, as well as Yumbah KI general manager David Connell and his staff.

Clr Walkom said KIPT's proposal truly was a "game changer" and its impacts on the Island's amenity, environment and existing business could not be underestimated.

"While council is very aware this is wholly a State planning process, the objective as I see it is that it is most important that the planning outcome will ensure the continuance of the established lifestyle of KI," he said.

Mayor Michael Pengilly said the proposed port was not hidden and its location on North Coast Road would impact on tourism and locals in that region of the Island.

Deputy mayor Bob Teasdale said the council's EIS submission needed to be more "hard hitting" and suggested a separate more strongly worded submission specifically from elected officials.

Clr Sam Mumford also said the submission was not strong enough, particularly the trucking of timber on local roads with council not able to do required upgrades.

The council will hold a special meeting prior to the May 28 deadline to formulate its official submission to the EIS process.

Ultimately the approval for the declared Major Project is the responsibility of State Planning Minister Stephan Knoll and the SA Government.

Meanwhile it was revealed this week that KIPT has been taking legal action against Yumbah over the past year in regards to an easement used by the abalone farm.

The Save Smith Bay group is hosting information tables on the main street of Kingscote over the next two weeks, the first of which also occurred on Tuesday.

Approved motions

MOTION 1: Council advise the Minister the requirement to provide a single multi-user port is not feasible and should be removed from the guidelines so as to extend the range of site options for the intended timber harvest export port.

MOTION 2: Council views Yumbah Aquaculture as an industry that fits well with the image of Kangaroo Island, supporting the seafood, primary production and food industry sectors of the island. Council also views opportunities with the KIPT forests as having the potential to provide positive outcomes for the Island. Both industries should be able to exist with quiet occupation of each other.

MOTION 3: Council do not view locating a seaport directly neighbouring the abalone farm at Smith Bay as providing co habitation, without the ongoing dissimilar land uses causing conflict and continued dispute for both industries.

MOTION 4: Council requests that possible seaport locations west of Stocks Bay Road be more fully assessed.

KIPT response

Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers community engagement director Shauna Black responded to The Islander in regards to each of the four motions:

1. Means re-writing the major projects guidelines and starting again. It's like setting an exam, waiting for the answers, and then deciding you don't like the answers, and asking everyone to start again. In any case, Smith Bay is the most suitable place for a single-user port.

2. We agree. The evidence shows that Yumbah will not be affected negatively by the proposal and, in fact, is likely to benefit from reduced exposure to polluted creek water.

3 The EIS clearly shows the two can co-exist, and the claims that there will be conflict or harm to Yumbah are not substantiated by the scientific literature about abalone, or the evidence presented about Yumbah's operations, or the marine environment in Smith Bay. What evidence is council relying on to support its assertions to the contrary?

4. The EIS Executive summary (p61) and the Main report (p 451-section 20.7) shows shifting the development to a location west of Stokes Bay such as Cape Dutton will mean the community will be worse off to the tune of almost $120m. Why should the community be required to forego these benefits when no credible evidence has been presented to support the assertions that Smith Bay is not a suitable location for the proposed development? The fact that the whole area west of Stokes Bay is in a Marine Park also seems not to bother Council, but it is certainly relevant to the State and Commonwealth governments.

Yumbah response

"Clearly Kangaroo Island Council shares the view of so many in the community that KPT's Environmental Impact Statement should be marked 'fail'," Yumbah Aquaculture director Anthony Hall said.

"The negative social, environmental and economic impact of this seaport proposal is profound for KI ratepayers, residents and business. Councillors have made it very clear that Smith Bay is not right for this proposal.

"The State Government must listen to the well-founded evidence council presents in its objection to the Smith Bay Seaport, just as it cannot ignore more than 500 KI signatures in a petition against KPT's proposal.

"For Yumbah, we say again, our abalone business cannot co-exist in Smith Bay with an industrial seaport less than 400m away. For four years this threat has loomed and stalled our intentions to invest in and grow our KI business.

"If the State Government lifts this threat, we will not hesitate to invest to grow Yumbah KI and with it, the Island's economy, on-island jobs and skills, and play our part in showcasing the premium, sustainable world-class products KI can sell to a global market."