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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Mixed reaction to mill plan

The Mercury: Mixed reaction to mill plan [18jan06]

PREDICTABLE brickbats and bouquets met the Lennon Government's announcement on Monday of a $60 million investment in downstream timber processing by Malaysian company Ta Ann Holdings.

The Huon mill will be built immediately and start processing 150,000 tonnes of low-quality pulpwood gum trees from regrowth forests in April next year, creating 120 construction jobs and 50 long-term positions.

Forests Council chairman Rob Woolley welcomed the announcement as a sign that Tasmania was moving towards a value-added timber industry.

"This development started with logs being exported for [plywood] manufacturing trials and then time was needed to find a place for the high-density peeled veneer ... in the market," Mr Woolley said.

But Greens leader Peg Putt said her party would only support the establishment of rotary-peeling veneer plants if they used existing eucalyptus plantation timber, instead of regrowth trees from high-conservation-value forests such as the Weld Valley.

he Wilderness Society demanded that Premier Paul Lennon give an iron-clad guarantee that no old-growth or threatened World Heritage forests be used.

State Labor backbencher Graeme Sturges accused the Tasmanian Greens of becoming anti-development driven, after earlier supporting the establishment of more value-adding processing such as veneer mills.

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