Public will get to comment on Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers' new jetty plan at Smith Bay

NEW DESIGN: The revised design for the causeway at the timber exporting port at Smith Bay being proposed by Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers. Image: KIPT
NEW DESIGN: The revised design for the causeway at the timber exporting port at Smith Bay being proposed by Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers. Image: KIPT

There will be a chance for the public, council and agencies to comment on Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers' new plans for a timber exporting port at Smith Bay.

KIPT now proposes to build a long, fully piled jetty out to deep water instead of dredging and build a solid causeway.

The company now needs to prepare an addendum to its Environmental Impact Statement, which once submitted to the planning minister will be released for public, council and agency comment for 30 days.

UPDATE:The company submitted its Addendum to the EIS on Friday, October 25 and believes the minister will announce the public consultation dates very soon. A company spokesperson said KIPT was fully supportive of further public consultation.

Yumbah Aquaculture is waiting to see more detail.

"Sending KIPT back to the drawing board is good news, and we thank the SA Government for requiring further consultation," Yumbah Aquaculture director Anthony Hall said. "We can't comment on the 'new jetty' at this stage, as all we have seen is the artists impression in The Islander - all 650 metres of it.

"KIPT's repeated changes have created confusion and uncertainty for years now, and that's not good for business, community or KI itself. For Yumbah, taking away the massive dredging at Smith Bay is welcome, but it's not the only problem for us and other businesses that rely on the clean, pest-free waters of Smith Bay."

Eco-Action KI and Dolphin Watch Kangaroo Island/Victor Harbor meanwhile continue to hold grave concerns, regardless of the new jetty plan, specifically for the southern right whale and white-breasted sea eagle, both protected Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

"Other marine mammals, protected under State laws, are known to transit through and haul out in Smith Bay. The increase in vessel traffic will mean an increased risk of collision and propeller strike injuries and deaths for all marine mammals in Smith Bay and its approaches," a statement from Eco-Action reads.

Mayor Michael Pengilly meanwhile said the council opposed the development. "Council's view has not changed and we hold a number of concerns, not the least of which is the impact on Yumbah's operations," he said. "We believe any port needs to be moved further west closer to the plantations."

KIPT meanwhile in a statement to shareholders stated called the addendum a "mini-EIS, addressing each of the criteria against which the marine component of the development is being assessed".

"The Addendum shows how the environmental impact of the in-water structure is reduced by the changes that have been made to the design," the statement reads.

"The reduced impacts arise from the absence of a solid causeway, the elimination of any requirement for dredging, the increased separation from sensitive receptors and the reduced footprint of the design on the seabed. There are consequential reductions in landside impact because there will be no requirement to process dredge spoil onshore."

Eco-Action KI however remains very concerned about the impact of the proposed jetty and marine traffic on Smith Bay.

"The fidelity of southern right whale females for Smith Bay is far higher than KIPT's EIS indicates, which is only one southern right whale sighting ever," its statement reads.

"Verifiable figures provided by KI Dolphin Watch indicate that approximately 44 adult southern right whale, one juvenile southern right whale and 16 calves were seen in Smith Bay between 2006 and 2016.

"Eye witness reports of at least three births in Smith Bay, indicates a good level of southern right whale fidelity for Smith Bay."

The group meanwhile holds equal concern for the fate of white-breasted sea eagles.

"Breeding success for this animal is low in areas where there is human disturbance. Present proscriptions on human interference relate to known human stressors, but It is unknown what effects high levels of industrial noise, together with high levels of high intensity lighting will have on breeding success for pairs of these birds. Until that research is done the precautionary principle should be applied."

Eco-Action KI also holds concerns about the terrestrial impact of KIPT's proposed development on Yumbah Aquaculture, tourism businesses and native animals, which it outlined in its initial EIS submission.