$31.1 million Granite Island Causeway project wins approval

Approval granted: Construction on the new Granite Island Causeway has been approved.
Approval granted: Construction on the new Granite Island Causeway has been approved.

The $31.1 million Granite Island Causeway project was today (Monday, March 1) granted approval, with investigation works at the site having begun on Thursday, February 25.

Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development and Member for Finniss David Basham, confirmed the news on Facebook this afternoon, saying it was "an exciting day".

The project is being delivered by the Department for Infrastructure and Transport (DIT) who sought approval from The State Commission Assessment Panel (SCAP) at a meeting in Victor Harbor last week.

Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Corey Wingard said it was "great to be able to progress this important project for the local community".

"The new Causeway will ensure locals and tourists will continue to have access to Granite Island for decades to come," Mr Wingard said.

"The new Causeway will have a 100-year design life that will create an elegant local landmark that will be respectful of heritage and place.

"We will also be retaining and restoring sections of the original Causeway at both ends, which will allow an appreciation of the original structure and sightlines."

Business Victor Harbor Chairman Michael Schubert said the new Causeway would breathe new life and reinvigorate Granite Island and the Victor Harbor surrounds.

"Business Victor Harbor supports today's announcement of the approval to start works on the new Causeway and we see the project as necessary for the ongoing viability and further development of our region and we anticipate an increase in tourism, business and community engagements as a result," Mr Schubert said.

"Given the new Causeway will run alongside the current one during construction ensures a seamless transition from the old to the new and enables business and tourism to keep operating at full capacity."

The project is not without controversy, with a 10,000 plus signature petition opposing the plans.

Environmentalists have also raised concerns about the effects construction will have on local fauna including little penguins and endangered southern right whales.

Spokesperson for local conservation group Encounter Whales Elizabeth Steele-Collins said the decision was deeply disappointing.

"It [the decision] threatens the safe haven Encounter Bay has been for whales, particularly for the sensitive southern right whale mothers with their babies," Ms Steele-Collins said.

"Longstanding government policy clearly advocates avoiding this type of construction during the whale breeding season. Every whale authority advises against doing this. It has never been done before in a southern right whale aggregation, breeding and nursery area while the whales are here.

"Experts warn this significantly risks the whales entering the bay, staying in the bay or returning in future years.

"Construction could have taken place outside of whale season. This reckless decision to push ahead during whale season also has the potential to significantly affect the economy of the entire region, not only in the construction years but for years thereafter."

The exact details of the approval and construction timelines for the project are yet to be announced.

DIT and the City of Victor Harbor have been contacted for comment.

More to come.

This story Granite Island Causeway project gets the green light first appeared on The Times.