Friends appeal EPA jetty decision

Photo: Shire of Esperance.
Photo: Shire of Esperance.

The Office of Appeals convenor has received an appeal from the Friends of the Esperance Tanker Jetty against the decision not to assess the environmental impact of the structure's deconstruction.

Late last month, EPA chairman Dr Tom Hatton announced it would not pursue a formal assessment of the replacement jetty project, saying the environmental effects did not warrant an assessment, despite receiving 102 submissions in favour of it.

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According to Friends' acting chairperson David Eltringham, the appeal was drafted by solicitors from the Environmental Defenders Office and was based on the degree of public interest in the jetty, the effects of the proposal and the likely environment impact.

While the EPA stated they recognised the social importance of the heritage listed structure, Mr Eltringham said the decision did not recognise its importance.

"The decision is inconsistent with the fact that 156 public comments were received, of which 102 favoured an assessment of the impact," he said.

"The Shire council's proposal will not result in 'potential loss' of cultural heritage, but permanent and irreversible loss of that heritage.

"Friends felt this decision reflected a lack of serious consideration of the jetty's cultural artefact and intergenerational equity.

"Friends believe the EPA did not undertake a robust assessment and careful evaluation of the irreversible damage to the environment, including Esperance's social environment, that demolition will cause."

Shire of Esperance chief executive officer Matthew Scott confirmed the shire had been contacted by the Office of Appeals convenor and was waiting for clarification on what may be required.

The Esperance Express understands the appeals will be investigated before a recommendation is made to Environment Minister Stephen Dawson.

Mr Scott said there would be costs associated with the process, including staff time to collate responses, but insisted the current tender process would not be interrupted by the appeal.

"Essentially, this means the shire will need to respond to specific queries from the Office of Appeals Convenor regarding raised environmental concerns," he said.

"There will be costs involved in this process including staff time to collate responses to specific queries, however costs are unknown at the moment.

"The majority of the supportive information is readily available and will be forwarded on request.

"We are confident that we will overcome this latest challenge and will continue working towards having a tender for a replacement jetty available at the end of the month."

Shire of Esperance acting president Natalie Bowman said she was disappointed the move could be another roadblock to a replacement jetty.

"I am incredibly disappointed that this could potentially be another delay in the progress towards a new jetty, but would like to assure the community that we will continue to work through the remaining steps in the process whilst responding to the latest road block," she said.

"As a long term Esperance community member, I am passionate about the environment and consider the plans made to reduce and mitigate any potential environmental impacts are thorough.

"We have a condition on the Section 64 Permit that supports a timely deconstruction and construction process that will limit the amount of time there is not jetty deck."