Halt The Salt News
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Wednesday, 3 December 2008
GOVERNMENT MUST LISTEN TO
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AUTHORITY ADVICE
Halt the Salt, an alliance of peak commercial and recreational
fishing interests and conservation groups, has today called on the
Barnett Government to heed formal advice from the Environmental
Protection Authority (EPA) and reject a proposed salt mine that
would have a negative impact on the fragile ecosystem of the eastern
In July this year the EPA categorically rejected the proposal to
build a salt mine, taking the unprecedented step of not offering
any conditions under which it could proceed. The Environmental Appeals
Convenor is also due to provide advice to Environment Minister Donna
Faragher later this month on the proponent’s appeal against
the EPA’s decision.
Alliance spokesman and Conservation Council of WA Director Piers
Verstegen said the EPA's opinion had been backed by a range of government
and scientific departments and individual experts including the
Department of Environment and Conservation, the Department of Fisheries,
the Marine Parks and Reserves Authority and Tourism Western Australia
“This pending decision is a test case for the new State Government.
It would be environmental vandalism for the government to make one
of its first decisions under the Environmental Protection Act by
going against the EPA’s findings and allowing this project
to go ahead,” Mr Verstegen said.
A petition containing 2,087 signatures opposing the salt mine will
be tabled in State Parliament this week. Initiated in Exmouth by
the Cape Conservation Group and MG Kailis with support from the
Halt the Salt Alliance, the petition is supported by 4,504 letters
of concern sent to the EPA and to the Premier.
Compliance and Projects Manager at MG Kailis, Stephen Hood said
the salt mine would have a huge impact on the local tourism, pearling
and prawning industries.
“These local industries are collectively worth $165 million
every year to the State’s economy, and each one relies on
the Exmouth Gulf remaining pristine and sustainable. Environmental
damage to the area would have a ripple effect on related industries
and communities,” Mr Hood said.
The proposed salt mine also threatens humpback whales (who migrate
to the area each year to nurse their young and rest), dugongs and
sea turtles as well as the many fish and birds who live and breed
in the area.
Recfishwest Policy Officer Kane Moyle said the salt mine would
be located in the immediate vicinity of a wetland of national significance
and arid zone mangroves, both of which have been listed as two of
WA’s most important environmental assets.
“The project could result in a toxic by-product, known as
“bitterns”, seeping into the local environment. An excavated
inland harbour and other infrastructure will expose the area to
sulphides that could destroy mangrove and algal mat habitat,”
Mr Moyle said.
“In addition, a massive retaining wall proposed along the
salt mine would divert water flow away from the area, starving the
Exmouth Gulf ecosystems of vital nutrients. This would impact particularly
on mangroves and seagrass meadows, which are breeding grounds for
Mr Verstegen has grave concerns that the Barnett Government may
be prepared to ignore the EPA's advice and allow the development
to occur at any cost to the environment.
“We are urging everybody concerned about the potential negative
impacts on our pristine North West coastal environment to go to
the Halt the Salt website and make a formal submission to the government
against the proposal,” he said.
Further information is available from www.haltthesalt.org.au.
Media contact: Piers Verstegen on 0411 557 892.