A KEY report on the future of Tasmania’s forests could be given to the state government on the same day as a federal decision on the Gunns pulp mill.
Former ACTU chief Bill Kelty, who has brokered Tasmanian forest reform talks, will be in Hobart today to deliver his interim report to the state government.
Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke is expected to announce today whether timber company Gunns has been issued the last environmental permits it needs for its proposed $2.3 billion Bell Bay pulp mill.
Gunns managing director Greg L’Estrange has spent the week talking up the company’s closer relations with environmental groups and other mill opponents in a series of public appearances.
He also repeated his commitment to set up a reference group of community representatives and mill experts to monitor the mill’s emissions and operation.
Mr Burke postponed his decision on the permits by a week last Thursday after Gunns sought to have more stringent controls incorporated in the federal guidelines.
The Northern-based TAP into a Better Tasmania made a last-minute protest against the mill by planting a copse of native trees on a section of the Bell Bay pulp mill site.
TAP spokesman Bob McMahon said that the group knew it was only a token gesture but had dedicated yesterday’s planting to the memory of five Tasmanian anti-pulp mill protesters - Stuart Leith, Mike Bleaney, Ruth Rowe, Peter Hewitt and Christopher Strong.
Environment Tasmania director Phill Pullinger said that the pulp mill proposal had failed to gain a social licence from the community.
Western Tiers MLC Greg Hall said that a Legislative Council committee inquiry could be established to look at the impact of the proposed lock- up of Tasmania’s native timber resources.
Mr Hall said that would depend on Mr Kelty’s report. The statement of forest principles, which has been the basis for talks this year, deals with a shift out of native forest logging.
Media Release: March 10th 2011
Tyenna residents stop forestry operations in a bid to protect local water catchment.
Today community members from the Tyenna Valley and their supporters have walked in to a logging coupe TN026C to stop operations for the day.
“Our community has been drinking the water from the Canaways Creek for over one hundred years. Now Forestry Tasmania has begun logging this water catchment, threatening our community’s precious water resource” Said local resident Barbara Poynter.
“People from this community have been trying to stop the logging of this water catchment for a long time, and have met with Forestry Tasmania and the local council as part of this process. Yet, despite this, Forestry Tasmania has broken written and verbal promises made to the community.” Said Ms Poynter.
“I have lived here for years only hearing the creek and the birds and now I wake up at 7am to chainsaws, cable loggers and trees crashing to the ground. The whole community is affected by this. If the logging doesn’t stop there will be irreparable damage to the water quality. This will be detrimental to the many families here that rely on drinking water directly from this creek.”
“Our community is outraged that Forestry Tasmania have began logging this coupe only weeks before the moratorium is due to be in place. We are calling on Forestry and the government to meet their promise and get out of this coupe by March 15th, so that this creek can be protected for the future generations of our community.” Said Ms Poynter.
Govt confirms logging halt request
The Tasmanian Government has confirmed it has asked Forestry Tasmania to stop logging high conservation value forests, after the company has satisfied its contracts.
In Parliament, the Premier Lara Giddings read out a letter from Resources Minister Bryan Green asking Forestry Tasmania to pull out.
The letter stated this should happen after the company has met “all of your contractual fiduciary and legal obligations.
The Liberal Leader Will Hodgman has accused the Premier of selling out native forest workers.
“You are in fact looking to trade off Tasmania’s native forest industry for the proposed mill,” he said.
The facilitator of the forestry peace talks, Bill Kelty, plans to release his interim report today.
Also in Parliament, the Greens’ Kim Booth said the timber company Gunns was planning to exceed noise guidelines for its pulp mill.
Ms Giddings said she was confident in the mill’s state approval process and was waiting for the federal environment assessment, due out today.
Gunns Limited has asked the Australian stock exchange for a trading halt.
The company has told the ASX it has requested the halt due to a pending announcement on its pulp mill project.
FORMAL DIRECTION GIVEN TO FORESTRY TO GET HCV MORATORIUM UNDERWAY
Nick McKim MP
The Tasmanian Greens today said that the formal written instructions from Forests Minister Bryan Green directing Forestry Tasmania to do all in its power to deliver the Forest Principles agreed moratorium on high conservation value forests logging is a welcome and important step forward.
Greens Leader Nick McKim MP said that the letter will assist in securing community confidence that legitimate expectations surrounding the moratorium on high conservation value forests will be delivered.
“We welcome this formal instruction to Forestry Tasmania from Minister Green although of course we would have preferred to see it issued earlier in the process,” Mr McKim said.
“The Greens have been working hard both publicly and behind the scenes to obtain this formal written directive from the Minister to Forestry Tasmania, and it should ensure that signatory and community confidence in the Forest Principles Agreement process is maintained.”
“The Forest Principles make it very clear that there should be a moratorium on high conservation value forests and that it be implemented by three months. This letter provides certainty that Forestry Tasmania is expected to deliver.”
“There is community expectation, following statements made by Federal Minister Tony Burke, that the moratorium is implemented and delivered by the 15th of March, whether that exact date can be achieved we will have to wait and see.”
Download: Copy of letter from Minister Bryan Green MP to Forestry Tasmania, 9 March 2011 (1pg):