Southern Launch release Whaler's Way EIS for consultation

VIEW: An aerial picture of Whaler's Way where the orbital launch complex is planned. Photo: supplied
VIEW: An aerial picture of Whaler's Way where the orbital launch complex is planned. Photo: supplied

Eyre Peninsula residents are being invited to have their say on Southern Launch's Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for its Whaler's Way Orbital Launch Complex, released for public consultation from Thursday.

Southern Launch released its 3200 page EIS which looks at potential impacts associated with the construction and operation of launch complex at Whalers Way, including the impact on the surrounding environment, wildlife and people in the area.

Public consultation opened on Thursday, August 5 and will run for six weeks, finishing on September 16.

This is the latest step forward for the project, which aims to be the first Australian site capable of launching commercial satellites.

This comes after Southern Launch was awarded the space launch facility license for Whaler's Way from the Australian Space Agency last month with state government approval for infrastructure to conduct up to three small rocket test launches by the end of 2021.

Chief executive officer Lloyd Damp said Southern Launch was excited to release the EIS to the public following three years of work and multiple assessments from a range of ecology specialists.

He said the public were encouraged to have their say on the project.

"The good thing about having the (EIS) out there is it provides a factual basis on which people can evaluate the project," he said.

The EIS shows operation will initially see one rocket launch per two months, increasing over time to a rocket launch per fortnight to a maximum of 36 orbital launches and six sounding rocket launches per year.

There have been concerns raised from the community about potential irreversible impacts on the Whaler's Way area and wildlife within it.

Isaac Taylor is one of the project's critics and said everyone should have a chance to read the document and have their say.

He said from looking at the document himself he had concerns about the impact on the environment.

"It clearly demonstrates the amount of development, particularly on the two (launch) sites will irreversibly change what is untouched wilderness," he said.

Mr Taylor said another concern was on the impact on Fishery Bay Road with 50 vehicle trips per day during peak launch times, which includes heavy vehicles.

Southern Launch is also planning to get the community involved through two information sessions in Port Lincoln on Thursday, August 24, the format of which to be determined based on COVID restrictions.

Mr Damp said the company welcomed questions from the public so they could get a greater understanding about the project.

He said all feedback received from the consultation period would be assessed for a summary to be provided to the state government.

"We really look forward to hearing from the local community," he said.

"This is a real opportunity for South Australia to be a part of what is a fantastic young industry.

"Whaler's Way is a unique location which provides the potential to do safe orbital launches."

Written submissions can be made through the PlanSA website and the EIS can be downloaded at plan.sa.gov.au/state_snapshot/development_activity/major_projects/majors/sleaford_southern_launch.

Want to have the biggest headlines sent your way each week? Sign up today for the weekly Port Lincoln Times newsletter here.