Peninsula Ports has taken another step forward to beginning work on its $230 million Port Spencer deep water grain port project following state government approval of its revised Public Environmental Report.
Planning and Local Government Minister Vickie Chapman announced today the government had approved the revised report following a rigorous major development assessment process.
The amended report removes the storage and export of iron ore from the evaluated project to reconfigure the site for efficient grain storage, handling and export, with the potential for managing other commodities in the future.
The news was welcomed by Peninsula Ports chief executive officer Greg Walters, who said this approval meant the new facility was planned to be ready to receive grain for the 2021 harvest.
He said the said approval of the amended report followed significant public consultation across the region.
"We thank the State Government departments, regional authorities, grain growers and other stakeholders for their contributions to the consultation and approvals process," he said.
"We're committed to delivering a new export terminal for the Eyre Peninsula, which will aid in protecting the clean and green reputation of the region's grain industry and significantly improving the competitiveness of the industry in reaching global markets.
"When complete, Port Spencer will be one of two deep water ports in the region, enabling large Panamax vessels to be loaded efficiently, cost effectively and largely irrespective of weather conditions.
Peninsula Ports projects the port will create up to 150 jobs during construction and a further 20 permanent local operational jobs, with staff numbers expected to further peak at 80 staff during harvest.
The company also aims to provide employment opportunities for Barngarla community members after signing an Indigenous Land Use Agreement with the Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation in February.
Ms Chapman said the government was keen to start moving on these types of infrastructure projects as quickly as possible because of the economic for the state.
"When completed, Port Spencer will enable large Panamax-sized vessels to be loaded and provide commercial benefits to the local grain industry through reduced transport costs, less double-handling of grain and increased market competition that could lead to improved prices offered to growers," she said.
Peninsula Ports will be required to provide final plans for all structures, along with the associated management and financial arrangements to minimise impacts on the coastal and marine environment, and upgrade of the access road to the site from the Lincoln Highway.
Concerns have been raised by residents in the area, including environmental concerns due to the port's location near Lipson Cove, due to the wildlife on Lipson Island and fears of beach and campground destruction.
Tumby Bay farmer Dion LeBrun said he was disappointed about this news, especially as the takeaway from a meeting at Cummins in March to discuss the grain port option was that the majority of Eyre Peninsula growers were not in favour of the project.
He said an immediate concern was also about road access to the port and if there would be any cost to the ratepayers, as well as the impact of truck traffic in the district and what would be needed to accommodate that.
"I'm a bit disappointed in light of the farmers meeting at Cummins, where it came to light it's not the preferred option," he said.
"The roads issue is an immediate concern, we need to have money allocated to road upgrades to happen in conjunction with the port."
Mr Walters said the company planned to visit the region by the end of the month to meet with shareholders and the Tumby Bay Consultative Committee.
"We take local concerns very seriously, we've always been interested in gauging with people in the local area," he said.
However Mr LeBrun said he did not have faith in the project and benefits it would bring to growers.
"I don't have much confidence on anything they deliver, they'll maybe deliver to shareholders but not to growers," he said.