Developer responds to coastal concern

THE impending closure of salt production at the Dry Creek salt fields has raised concerns regarding the implications on both the environment and wildlife that inhabit the site.

Middle Beach resident and Mallala Foreshore Advisory Committee member, Barb Reid, (right) said the whole ecology of the area would be changed dramatically.

She was worried given limited information was available from either private enterprise or government about how the site will be rehabilitated.

“The land is said to be sold for housing development but the lack of information is of concern for us,” Mrs Reid said.

She felt little consideration had also been given to the extensive birdlife, which will be left without a home.

“The migratory birds who use the Asia-Pacific Flyway will also be affected as they will have a reduced opportunity to feed,” Mrs Reid said. “Who knows what’s going to happen to them?”

Ridley Corporation, the company that owns the land, confirmed it is in discussions with the State Government to develop a management plan for the rehabilitation of the salt fields.

Ridley Property Development manager, Stephen Butler, said since Adelaide-based company, Penrice Soda, confirmed it would no longer require any more salt from the Dry Creek salt pans as of June 30, the company was forced to close the fields.

“The Dry Creek salt fields were designed to provide that site with salt,” Mr Butler explained.

“If we don’t close the fields, they will just keep producing salt, which would drastically impact the environment.

“So, we’re putting together a management plan in conjunction with government departments, including mining and the EPA, to determine what we need to do to close the fields.”

Closing the salt pans, which span about 5500 hectares, will be no easy task and Mr Butler expects it to take some time.

“It’s a very complex job and we have large volumes of salt stockpiled, which could take years to consume or shift, so there should be activity at Dry Creek for many years to come,” he said.

“The management plan still needs to be prepared and that will need to facilitate responsible environmental management in that process.

“We are aware of the various birds and wildlife that inhabit the site and it will be part of the plan we have to deal with during the closing process.”

Mr Butler’s office has also been swamped with calls about the low levels of water in the ponds.

“The water levels operating in the ponds are the same as they have been every winter, as when there is less evaporation, we don’t need to pump as much water,” he explained.

“We’re still maintaining the same water levels we have every year.”

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