Aerial photos released today by the Wilderness Society show that vegetation has been cleared for the entire footprint of the pulp mill, potentially in breach of permit conditions. The permit expired after two years in August 2009 and has not yet been renewed or extended.

“Even though the Tasmanian Government has done yet another special deal for Gunns, by tabling legislation to extend the permit, this legislation is not yet law,” said Paul Oosting, pulp mill campaigner for the Wilderness Society.

“Gunns has been clearing vegetation on the pulp mill site since the permit has expired. The Tasmanian Government must take action against what appears to be illegal behaviour.”

The aerial images taken on 23 October show the extent of the clearing. There is substantial anecdotal evidence from Tamar Valley residents that clearing activity has been occuring during September and October. This indicates Gunns has been clearing vegetation on the pulp mill site following the expiry of the permit.

“Gunns should be held accountable to Tasmanian laws. Any other business or individual would not be able to get away with this. The Government must uphold the law and investigate this potential breach,” added Mr Oosting.

“The passing of the ‘clarification’ legislation through the lower house of parliament is another example of the unhealthy relationship between the logging industry and the government. It is totally inappropriate for Gunns to receive special treatment like this.

“Gunns’ pulp mill may have successfully demolished Premier Bartlett’s line in the sand, but it still hasn’t received the backing of international financiers. No amount of lifelines thrown at this project by the Premier will change the fact that this pulp mill will never get off the ground,” concluded Mr Oosting.

Images are for use by media, copyright The Wilderness Society.
Paul Oosting, The Wilderness Society