KIPT revises seaport design to address concerns

Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers has revised the design of its proposed timber exporting port at Smith Bay.

There would be no dredging and no solid causeway in the revised design for the "Kangaroo Island Seaport", which the company says addresses the concerns of neighbours and also environmental issues.

"Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers has responded to issues raised in the public consultation process in May about the potential impact of seabed dredging on the environment and the neighbouring aquaculture facility," reads a statement released by KIPT on Friday, September 20.

"Issues were also raised about effects on natural coastal processes and these have been addressed by amending the jetty design to remove the solid causeway section in favour of a fully piled structure.

"A formal document outlining these revisions will be submitted to the State and Commonwealth governments later this month.

"The Major Projects development assessment process in South Australia is designed to allow and encourage projects to be modified to address public and agency comments.

"KIPT has modified its design in response to comments from government, the nearby onshore aquaculture facility, neighbours and private citizens."

KIPT managing director Keith Lamb explained the company's thinking.

"KPT considered that the risks posed by these factors could be managed and eliminated within its original design by applying appropriate protocols and safeguards," Mr Lamb said.

"Even so, the company has been encouraged to further reduce the dredge quantity and to provide a mechanism for water circulation".

KIPT had modified the design of in-water structures:

  • To eliminate any need for capital or maintenance dredging, by moving the berth face about 250m further offshore, to the natural -13.5m seabed contour.
  • To utilise a fully piled jetty structure instead of a solid causeway, so that natural coastal processes will be uninterrupted.

The KIPT board resolved that the cost impact of these design enhancements (which is estimated to be about $9 million) was likely to be more than offset by:

  1. The benefits to the marine environment;
  2. The increased separation of the berth face from sensitive receptors;
  3. The removal of any remaining obstacles to a timely approval decision by government; and
  4. The fact that the landside part of the construction project is simplified, because there will be no requirement for on-land dredge spoil dewatering and processing. This means that landside works can occur simultaneously with marine construction activity, bringing forward the export of woodchips.

Mr Lamb said the company would shortly lodge an addendum to formally modify its development application and is working with the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure on determining and completing the remaining steps in the development assessment process.

In addition to its concerns about dredging, Yumbah Aquaculture, the owner of the onshore abalone farm at Smith Bay, said in its submission: "The only option to protect coastal currents is an open-piled jetty with the berth pocket extended further offshore." This is what the Company now proposes to do.

Mr Lamb said KIPT had considered Yumbah's submission carefully.

"We have taken our neighbours at their word and have modified the project as they have requested, to eliminate the sources of their principal concerns," he said.

"We now hope that Yumbah will withdraw its objections to our wharf, and we look forward to working co-operatively with them to deliver a great outcome for both businesses, and increased prosperity for the Island community.

"The trees are ready, the customers are ready, our construction partners are ready, and we are keen to get the project under way so that hundreds of new jobs can be created.

"We are building a facility of which the community can be proud, in a way that respects the environment and our neighbours.

"We trust that all remaining commentary can be conducted in a similarly respectful manner, and with a focus on getting the best possible outcome for all stakeholders."

Yumbah responds

Yumbah Aquaculture has responded to the design changes saying they are a good start but the plans had changed so significantly more consultation was now needed.

"This is the fourth significant change in proposal by KIPT since the process started years ago," Yumbah Aquaculture director Anthony Hall said.

"It is materially different from the proposal that was subject to an EIS submitted less than six months ago.

"The public discussion process should be reopened to allow for community feedback on this new - very different - proposal.

Another design change may answer one question for Yumbah, but the State Government has 25 big questions about this wharf, in a job lot of 137 questions about KPT's draft EIS.

"A longer jetty does not address biodiversity threats, doesn't reduce biosecurity risks, and doesn't improve or explain the impact of on-land operations.

"The seaport would still be a disaster for our abalone farm that has been in Smith Bay for more than 20 years.

"Yumbah is just one of more than 1200 objectors to KPT's draft EIS.

"We would like to have constructive dialogue with KPT, but due to legal action KPT has commenced in the Supreme Court, our hands are tied."

AusOcean responds

The founder of the AusOcean marine research group, Alan Noble has also responded to the revised plan.

"While a long jetty at Smith Bay would address the very worst impacts of dredging, it would not eliminate them entirely, nor would it address other serious threats such as biosecurity hazards, underwater noise pollution, wood chip leachates and more," Mr Noble said.

KI/VH Dolphin Watch responds

Kangaroo Island/Victor Harbor Dolphin Watch founder Tony Bartram said the new design in no way alleviated issues related to Matters of National Environmental Significance under the EPBC Act.

"It does not provide any form of mitigation of impacts upon endangered, threatened, vulnerable or migratory species and in some situations may even exacerbate matters eg. more piles for an open jetty structure means more piling noise and therefore greater noise impacts, already an area of considerable concern at both State and Federal levels," Mr Bartram said.

"In the State government's response to the EIS through the EPA, there is a specified need for the use of marine mammal observers during the whale and dolphin breeding seasons.

"Our data clearly shows that dolphins on KI's north coast breed all year round - there is no defined season. As there is no possible mitigation strategies proffered by the proponents and no suitable offsets under the Offset Policy of 2012, there is no plausible reason why approval should be granted for such a development at Smith Bay."

Company details from KIPT

  • KIPT's plantation estate: 80 per cent bluegum, 20 per cent pine.
  • KIPT owns 25,400 hectares of land: 18,100ha (71 per cent) plantable, 14,200ha (56 per cent) planted, 7300ha (29 per cent) remnant native vegetation.
  • Market cap: $120 million.
  • Jobs once forestry is operational: 234FTE - 160 direct and 74 indirect.
  • Increase to annual Gross Regional Product: Total $53 million, KI $41.8 million.
  • 6.6 million tonnes of timber ready to harvest in first rotation over 12 years: KIPT 5.3 million tonnes, others (12 independent growers) 1.3 million tonnes.
  • Marketing arrangements in place with Mitsui Bussan Woodchip Oceania Pty Ltd.
  • MOU signed with other growers for harvest and marketing of their timber.
  • 12 ha site at Smith Bay for export facilities.

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