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Monday, January 09, 2006

FINAL PULP MILL IMPACT GUIDELINES INADEQUATE

Tasmanian Greens ...Media Release: "FINAL PULP MILL IMPACT GUIDELINES INADEQUATE"


The Tasmanian Greens today condemned the timing of release by the RPDC of finalised Integrated Impact Statement guidelines for Gunns’ proposed pulp mill, saying the release on commencement of the Christmas holiday period meant that concerned people and community groups were unaware of the guidelines, that the community was least likely to be engaged and to scrutinise them at this time, and that any potential legal challenge would be hamstrung by the shutdown of offices whilst the clock ticked away.
Greens Opposition Leader Peg Putt MHA also criticised the continued failure to require assessment of the impacts on native forests of being logged for pulp mill feedstock, despite the fact that a mill of this size would lock in destruction of remaining unprotected high conservation value forests across the north of Tasmania, at the very least.
Ms Putt said that whilst a range of environmental issues had been acknowledged, the guidelines did not always go on to require the appropriate assessments.
“This tactic of bringing down major announcements about controversial projects at Christmas when concerned individuals and groups are busy with family and less likely to be aware of what has happened, or be able to respond, is usually adopted by sleazy developers,” Ms Putt said.
“The RPDC announcement of the final guidelines enables maximum evasion of scrutiny, and could very well disadvantage anyone wanting to appeal this decision.”
“The proposed huge pulp mill would place such heavy demand on Tasmania’s native forests in the north that it could spell the death knell for remaining unprotected forests of high conservation value, like those of the Blue Tier, yet the RPDC have ignored pleas to require the impact on these forests to be thoroughly assessed.”
“Whilst the fact that the mill would continue well past the life of the RFA is acknowledged, all the RPDC ask for is a recitation of the usual excuses for why the logging of native forests would be okay, by relying on mere mention of discredited safeguards such as the Forest Practices Code.”
“This is just no substitute for requiring a proper assessment of the effects of logging particular forest areas on the conservation values including regionally threatened species, biodiversity, landscape, water, cultural heritage and so on.”
“Another aspect which initially looks good but fails to deliver is the acknowledgement that the regional airshed may be affected by particles and odour, because there turns out to be no requirement that the newly defined regional airshed be monitored for an initial 12 months to inform the impact study, and this remains restricted to the local 12 kilometre radius.”
The Greens are also concerned that sources in the forest industry are apparently predicting that Gunns IIS will be completed in February.
“It beggars belief that with the final assessment guidelines only just determined Gunns could possibly be in a position to do all the work now required in time to produce a report in under two months, and must mean that something pretty odd is going on.”
“Has Gunns been privy to the changes before the rest of us, has the expanded list of concerns recognised by the RPDC translated into a need for further long term studies, or have the proponents been allowed to get by with the work which was already underway before the guidelines were even made final?”

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