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Australian news, and some related international items

Environmentalists want independent review on plans for rocket launch from Eyre Peninsula

SA rocket launch amid calls for conservation site review  Stephanie Richards, IN DAILY,

Environmentalists are calling on the State Government to order an independent review into alternate sites for a rocket launchpad facility, as a company today launches its first test rocket from the Eyre Peninsula conservation zone it hopes to make a permanent base.

Space industry company Southern Launch will today launch a 10-metre-high, three-tonne test rocket from its Whalers Way Oribital Launch Complex in a conservation zone about 25-kilomtres southwest of Port Lincoln.

The rocket, owned by Taiwan-based space company tiSPACE, will travel southwards over the Great Australian Bight, with Southern Launch using the launch to gather noise and vibration data to determine the impact of rocket launches on native wildlife.

Southern Launch was granted permission by the State Commission Assessment Panel to launch the test rockets in June, but it is still waiting on approval to build two permanent launchpads at the Whalers Way site to host regular satellite launches into orbit around the Earth’s poles.

The proposal has received significant backlash from conservationists and local residents, who argue a rocket launchpad complex should not be built in a conservation zone that is home to several state and federal-listed threatened bird species.

In a joint statement issued yesterday, South Australian conservation groups including the Nature Conservation Society, Wilderness Society, Conservation Council, the National Trust, Birds SA and Trees for Life expressed “major concerns” with the imminent launch and plans for a permanent launchpad facility at the site.

They called on the State Government to order an independent review of possible alternate locations for the launchpads, arguing “the only analysis that has been done on possible locations is by the company that stands to profit from this operation”.

“We have urged the Government to work with the company to find an alternative site for the proposed rocket launch facility, but so far, none have been put forward,” Trees for Life CEO Natasha Davis said.

According to Southern Launch’s Environmental Impact Statement, which is currently out for public consultation, the company considered several sites to build its permanent launchpad facility before settling on Whalers Way.

Alternate sites in South Australia included Kangaroo Island, Cape Jervis, Cape Douglas, Ceduna and the Mid Eyre Peninsula, while a RAAF base in regional Victoria and a national park in Western Australia were also considered.

The site was the subject of a Heritage Agreement; however, some areas of the site were specifically excluded from the agreement.”

Asked whether the Government supported an independent review into alternate locations for the launchpad facility, a state government spokesperson told InDaily that as Southern Launch’s proposal had been classed as a “major project”, the company would need to submit an analysis of why Whalers Way is a suitable site.

“The proponent’s Environmental Impact Statement is currently out for public consultation, and South Australians are urged to have their say,” the spokesperson said.

The public has until next Thursday to submit feedback via the Plan SA website.

The site was the subject of a Heritage Agreement; however, some areas of the site were specifically excluded from the agreement.”

Asked whether the Government supported an independent review into alternate locations for the launchpad facility, a state government spokesperson told InDaily that as Southern Launch’s proposal had been classed as a “major project”, the company would need to submit an analysis of why Whalers Way is a suitable site.

“The proponent’s Environmental Impact Statement is currently out for public consultation, and South Australians are urged to have their say,” the spokesperson said.

The public has until next Thursday to submit feedback via the Plan SA website.

According to Southern Launch’s Environmental Impact Statement, six threatened bird species were located during field surveys at the launch site, and another ten threatened species were known to live in the area………………..

In a Facebook post this morning, Premier Steven Marshall said the test launches “put South Australia in the box seat to tap in to the nation’s booming space industry”. https://indaily.com.au/news/2021/09/10/sa-rocket-launch-amid-calls-for-conservation-site-review/

September 11, 2021 - Posted by | South Australia, technology

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