Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers has reached the final milestone in its development application today, with the lodging of its formal Response Document for the Kangaroo Island Seaport.
The document addresses issues raised by government agencies and the community in either the first or second round of public consultation conducted by the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure last year.
KIPT managing director Keith Lamb said many of the comments received in the initial eight-week public consultation had been addressed by the change in marine design announced in September 2019, which was the subject of a further six-week public consultation.
"More broadly, wherever possible, KIPT has sought to listen to the community and to respond positively and constructively to every comment, so that the project delivers the greatest possible benefits to the community with the least possible environmental effects," Mr Lamb said.
He thanked all who had taken the time to make a submission, whether supportive or otherwise. "The end result is a better project and one of which the community can be justly proud."
Mr Lamb said the change in marine design had assuaged the greatest concerns of its aquaculture neighbour Yumbah about potential marine impacts, and that the Response Document addressed all other remaining issues.
The Response Document is, effectively, the final part of the Environmental Impact Statement, upon which DPTI will base the planning assessment report for approval by the Minister for Planning and, separately, the federal Minister for the Environment.
The Minister for Planning will determine when to make the Response Document public. There is no provision in the process for further public submissions or for appeals against the Minister's decision.
Mr Lamb said that despite the "considerable challenges" the summer had presented for the company, work on the Response Document had continued. He thanked KIPT's Approvals Manager Peter Lockett, the project team at Environmental Projects and the many independent experts who had assisted.
The company was now working through post-fire harvest and land-clearing options for the fire-affected resource on behalf of its shareholders as well as the 12 independent growers on the Island, to start once the seaport was built. The Kangaroo Island Seaport remained essential to the company and to the future prosperity of Kangaroo Island.
"It will allow the employment benefits of forestry to flow and will assist in the Island's recovery from the bushfires as the Company implements its harvest work."
KPT Managing Director Keith Lamb said the Island now faced a second significant challenge with the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"As the Island faces this new challenge and its severe impacts on tourism and hospitality, the commencement of construction and forestry operations will provide a significant boost for the local economy and more specifically for workers seeking new opportunities.
"The Company has already recruited six new employees as part of its recovery plan following the bushfires. The new staff are working with the five employees we had already on clearing and rebuilding fencing, particularly with our neighbours, and prioritising those who have stock to contain.
"Once approval is obtained for the KI Seaport, the Company and its partners will be able to make further announcements on the significant employment growth created through the construction, and subsequent start-up phase of harvesting and replanting.
"The infrastructure created by the Kangaroo Island Seaport development will also provide alternative access for freight to and from the Island. This could help in times of crisis, such as the recent bushfires, when there was an urgent need to import fodder for grazing animals and defence force equipment and material. Similarly, there will be international containerised freight opportunities that do not currently exist. The Company anticipates that the infrastructure could have other uses, all subject to regulatory approval," Mr Lamb said.
Shares in KIPT on the Australian Stock Exchange remained suspended from trading since the bushfires. The company was working towards ending that suspension over coming weeks.