The Friends of the Esperance Tanker Jetty have reached out to the Environmental Protection Authority to request a review into the impact the demolition of the structure would have on the marine environment below.
The request for a Public Environmental Review was made in late December, with the group concerned that the demolition of the jetty would impact marine species including the threatened Weedy Sea Dragon and the Leafy Sea Dragon.
Footage of the unique marine life below the jetty featured in a 10-minute short film released in June, 2018, by local filmmaker Jennene Riggs about the structure’s history.
Friends of the Esperance Tanker Jetty vice-chair David Eltringham said the utmost consideration should be given to the environment beneath the jetty.
“We need to consider the unique environment under the jetty,” he said.
“What is alongside the jetty is completely different to what is underneath the jetty, indicating that this habitat relies heavily on the cover [of the jetty].
“If demolition were to go ahead, some parts of that would be exposed for however long it takes to build a replacement – that could be a year or more.
“Whatever does happen, we don’t want to lose that and it could well be lost.
“When they were demolishing the jetty island back in 2015, the black faced cormorants had to be relocated and demolition could not go ahead until that had taken place.
“That’s the sort of power and impact the EPA have over the demolition of sites like this.
“It [the marine life] certainly should be given the utmost consideration.”
Shire of Esperance chief executive officer Matthew Scott refuted the claims and said the shire were very conscious of the marine environment and any impact on flora and fauna would be minimised.
“As with all projects, the shire has to identify and address all environmental concerns,” he said.
“It is important to note that we intend to retain as many piles as possible in situ, they will be cut three metres below the low tide mark to form a historical reference, preserving as much plant growth as possible while also ensuring the replacement jetty follows the same footprint.”
“While a conservation order remains in place deconstruction cannot start until funding is available, once funding is received both projects can be run concurrently.
“Council sees this project as a priority and will be supporting the shire in seeing both projects move forward as soon as practicable.”
Mr Scott confirmed the deconstruction tender had a section for environmental management, with tenderers required to specify how they would minimise their environmental impact in their submission.
“This would be the same for a replacement tender – all tenderers will be required to outline compliance to all marine construction standards and environmental standards,” he said.
“The Shire is very conscious of our beautiful marine environment and any contractor involved in the deconstruction or replacement project will be required to provide details as to how they will minimise impact on all flora and fauna in the area.
An EPA spokesperson confirmed the EPA had received a referral regarding the demolition by a third party and was seeking further information.
“At this stage, the EPA has sought further information from the Shire of Esperance about the proposal and its potential environmental impacts,” the spokesperson said.
“Once this information is received the EPA will be in a position to make a decision on whether the proposal requires assessment.”