During Question Time today, Mark also asked the Minister for Human Services, representing the Minister for Environment and Water, a question about the St Kilda Mangroves.
The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: My question is: is the minister concerned that the EPA has virtually no regulatory responsibility for the former saltworks that are affecting mangroves and other vegetation communities at St Kilda? Secondly, will the government legislate or regulate to ensure that the EPA does have regulatory responsibility for activities that discharge water to the marine environment or to surrounding wetlands?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (Minister for Human Services): I thank the honourable member for his question. Clearly, all of us, as South Australians, are very concerned about the situation with the mangroves of St Kilda, which are an iconic site enjoyed by many and which obviously have significant environmental benefits. My advice is that there is a range of efforts across several government agencies that has the purpose of halting any further impacts to vegetation and of collecting any evidence required for any appropriate regulatory action. The ecological processes are quite complex.
I think the honourable member was part of a group; it might have been with the Natural Resources Committee—no, the ERD Committee. We visited the site and, since the company that was there exited the site, the issue of how to manage that salinity has been something governments have needed to manage. The scientific advice doesn't at this stage indicate whether the loss of mangroves was due to hypersaline water acidity or a lack of oxygen to mangrove roots. All that monitoring and assessment is being undertaken daily. I will take advice from the Minister for Environment in relation to the specific questions and bring it back to the house.
On 4 March, the following reply was provided:
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (Minister for Human Services): The Department for Environment and Water has advised:
The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has regulatory responsibility for the Dry Creek salt field in collaboration with the lead regulator, the Department for Energy and Mining (DEM).
Operations of the Dry Creek salt field operator, Buckland Dry Creek Pty Ltd, are under the specific management of the Mining Act 1971 through the Program for Environment Protection and Rehabilitation under the mining lease.
The EPA licenses Buckland Dry Creek Pty Ltd under the Environment Protection Act 1993. This licence can be viewed by the public using the EPA's online public register.
As with all businesses undertaking activities in South Australia, Buckland Dry Creek is subject to the Environment Protection Act 1993. This includes the requirement to comply with the general environmental duty, that is to take all reasonable and practicable measures to prevent or minimise environmental harm.