Kangaroo Island divided over plans for deep sea woodchip port

Published on The Weekly Times 5 June 2017 – Click here to view the original article.

Pristine waters: Commercial abalone farmer David Connell at Kangaroo Island. Picture: Kelly Barnes

SOUTH Australia’s Kangaroo Island is split by plans to build a deep sea port on its north coast to ship woodchips directly to China and Japan to be made into paper and disposable nappies.

At stake is the island’s rising fame as an international high-end wilderness and eco-tourism destination, its clean-green food and wine reputation and the survival of a $40 million abalone farm next door to the proposed woodchip stack and wharf, The Australian reports.

Opponents fear the death of thousands of native animals, including koalas, sooty kangaroos, tammar wallabies and echidnas, as semi-trailers carrying woodchips and logs thunder down its sleepy dirt backroads to the proposed new Smith Bay port. There are also concerns for the safety of tourists as well as for the welfare of dolphins, humpback whales and sea eagles that live and breed at the planned port site.

Smith Bay, northwest of the ­island’s main town Kingscote, is protected as a coastal conservation zone, with the proposed 200m-long rock wharf where bulk carriers will be loaded with woodchips bought by Japan’s Mitsui corporation described as a “non-complying” development.

The deep sea port proposal by listed timber company Kangaroo Island Plantation Timber has been handed major project status by the SA Labor government, removing it from the local council’s hands.

It was a move that devastated David Connell, manager of adjacent Yumbah Aquaculture.