The Greens shoot at the SA rocket launch complex “in the middle” of a sensitive site

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Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young has grilled South Australian government officials over a rocket launch development “right in the middle” of an environmentally sensitive site.

The senator, speaking at a Senate estimate hearing yesterday, said she was not in favor of the controversial development of the rocket launch at Whalers Way, south of Port Lincoln, becoming a permanent fixture .

“It’s an environmentally sensitive place.

“Why on earth would we have it right in the middle of what is already considered a heritage area under state protection?” “

The South African government has received 54 public comments on Southern Launch’s development plans.(Provided: South launch)

Southern Launch, which recently built a launch pad complex at the popular tourist site, has been granted permission to test two launches by the end of the year and hopes to make the site a permanent launch complex by early this year. next year.

In September, the company made several attempts to test Taiwan-based TiSPACE’s 10.2-meter Hapith-I rocket, which failed because the rocket caught fire and disintegrated.

Vulnerable species “at risk”

Senator Hanson-Young said she was concerned about the impact future rocket launches would have on vulnerable species.

“We have the wren emu, which is already endangered, we have sea lions nearby on the coastal areas that are threatened and endangered and, in fact, are still waiting for a proper protection plan from the government. federal, ”she said. noted

Small birds with blue feathers
Nature Conservation Society SA is also concerned about the Southern Emu Wren that lives in Whalers Way.(Provided: Dion Thompson)

A government official confirmed during the estimate hearing that 54 public comments had been received on the company’s plan, most of which focused on social and economic reasons against the development.

Senator Hanson-Young said she shared her concerns with some locals who contacted her office about potential bushfire risks.

“Our climate is drying up, the risk of bush fires is becoming more and more intense,” she said.

Three years of planning

Southern Launch CEO LLoyd Damp said the company has spent the past three years developing a comprehensive 3,200-page environmental impact statement in consultation with a range of industry experts.

Three men in suits stand in a large room around a table, the man in the center holding a yellow rocket model.
Southern Launch CEO Lloyd Damp with Prime Minister Scott Morrison and a mock-up of one of the company’s rockets.(Provided: South launch)

“We were able to demonstrate when we attempted the first launch, when we had a fire on the launch pad, we were able to handle the situation and make sure the environment was never endangered.”

Mr Damp said that in the last attempt a small shrub was burnt, as was grass nearby.

He said the company plans to set up its own team of first responders to cover any fire, medical or other emergencies in the event the site is approved for permanent use.

Mr Damp added that Southern Launch is committed to giving back to Whalers Way.

“This strategy includes the elimination of decades of waste dumped from the site, the sponsorship of research to contribute to the body of knowledge about the flora and fauna of the Lower Eyre Peninsula, the implementation of a program of “Eradicating weeds, vermin and wildlife, reintroducing native vegetation and working to attract local raptor populations to nest again along the Whalers Way coast,” he said.


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