Southern Launch receives approval for Whaler's Way launches

LAUNCH SITE: Southern Launch general manager infrastructure Andrew Curran and executive director Mike Damp break ground at Whalers Way on Thursday. Photo: supplied
LAUNCH SITE: Southern Launch general manager infrastructure Andrew Curran and executive director Mike Damp break ground at Whalers Way on Thursday. Photo: supplied

Whaler's Way is one step closer to hosting rocket launches after Southern Launch was approved to conduct three test launches at the site.

The State Commission Assessment Panel approved Southern Launch's development application to build infrastructure to support a test launch campaign on the privately owned land at Whalers Way, which includes a temporary rocket launch pad..

The application specifies that only up to three test launches would happen, infrastructure would not results in any permanent change in the land use or any permanent structures on site and the launch pad would be built on an already cleared area, without any native vegetation removal.

Southern Launch chief executive officer Lloyd Damp said this was a huge milestone after the company had spent the past eight months working with government and independent agencies.

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"With construction approvals in hand, the whole Southern Launch team are overjoyed and is excited about the future of launch in Australia," he said.

"The Southern Launch team are very grateful for the overwhelming support we have received from the Port Lincoln and Lower Eyre Peninsula communities."

The test launches will be used to provide data for Southern Launch and government agencies to assess the effect of the proposed development of a permanent rocket launch facility.

A date for the first launch has yet to be announced as Southern Launch was still working through a regulatory process with the Australian Space Agency.

However not everyone is happy about the news as Sleaford resident Nel Taylor who has been vocal against the use of Whaler's Way as a rocket launching location.

She said they were considering an appeal based on the current state of Fishery Bay Road and the fact that parts of the road were less than 20 metres away from unstable cliffs.

However Mrs Taylor said the main issue was the Whaler's Way becoming a place of industry and Southern Launch deciding when the public could or could not visit.

"They will have the power to close Whaler's Way in the interests of public safety at any time and for as long as they see fit," she said.

"No one will ever again be able to decide on the spur of the moment to just go and visit Whaler's Way for a refresh in one of nature's most glorious wild places."

Whaler's Way is currently closed for about two weeks for road maintenance works.

However Mr Damp said Southern Launch was keen to keep Whaler's Way open for tourism.

While located in the council's area, Lower Eyre Peninsula District Council does not own the land Southern Launch will use, but had communicated with the organisation on issues including road infrastructure.

The council's director commercial operations and infrastructure Tim Blacker said discussion included the need for event and traffic management plans, and to ensure the use of roads would not impact ratepayers.

However Mr Damp said Southern Launch was working with the council, tourism operators to discuss options for people to watch the launches while maximising safety and reducing impact on the local roads.

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