Four years on and Tasmania remains an island divided over Gunns’ proposed two billion dollar pulp mill…

Pulp Friction in Tasmania: A review of the environmental assessment of Gunns’ proposed pulp mill

On 14 March 2007, Gunns Ltd withdrew its Tamar Valley pulp mill proposal from the environmental assessment being conducted by Tasmania’s planning authority. The proposal subsequently underwent three other assessments: by consultants hired under the provisions of the State’s specially legislated Pulp Mill Assessment Act 2007; by the Department of Environment and Water Resources under the provisions of the Commonwealth’s Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999; and by a specially commissioned Scientific Panel chaired by Australia’s Chief Scientist. The mill was finally approved for construction on 4 October 2007.

Given this level of scrutiny, one might reasonably conclude that the pulp mill’s impacts have been comprehensively evaluated. But have they? Situating the pulp mill proposal within its broader historical, political, legal and philosophical contexts, the book’s 15 contributors investigate the rigour with which the mill’s impacts on natural heritage, Aboriginal heritage, the sea, the air and the economy have really been assessed.

Fred Gale is a Senior Lecturer in the University of Tasmania’s School of Government whose research interests are national and global environmental governance focussing on the political economy of forestry. He is the author of The Tropical Timber Trade Regime (Palgrave Macmillan 1998), Setting the Standard (UBC Press 2008), and Global Commodity Governance (Palgrave Macmillan 2011). He has edited two other books: Nature Production Power (Edward Elgar 2000) and Confronting Sustainability (Faculty of Forestry and Environmental Studies Press, Yale University 2006).
The book’s contributors, listed alphabetically, are Wendy Aitken, Giorel Curran, Ronlyn Duncan, Fred Gale, Kathy Gibson, Robyn Hollander, Murray Johnson, Tony McCall, Linn Miller, Gary O’Donovan, Michael Stokes, Joanna Vince, Graeme Wells, Rob White, and Graham Wood. For more information see


1. People, Place and Identity in the Tamar Valley Precinct (Johnson)
2. Tasmania’s Development as Cargo Cultism: a Political Historical Perspective (McCall)
3. The Wesley Vale Pulp Mill Proposal and its Aftermath (Curran and Hollander)
4. Planning Tasmania’s Tamar Valley Pulp Mill: a Political Economic Analysis (Gale)
5. The Right to Dissent: the Gunns 20 Legal Case (White)
6. Environmental Assessment in Tasmania: the Resource Management and Planning System (Stokes)
7. The Pulp Mill and Habitat Loss (Duncan)
8. The Pulp Mill and the Sea (Vince)
9. The Pulp Mill and the Air (Aitken)
10. The Pulp Mill and Tasmanian Aboriginal Heritage (Miller)
11. The Pulp Mill: an Economic Assessment (Wells)
12. The Pulp Mill and Business (Gibson and O’Donovan)
13. The Validity of the Pulp Mill Permit (Stokes)
14. The Pulp Mill, Bleached Kraft Paper and Sustainable Development: an Ethical Analysis of Necessities Versus Luxuries (Wood)
15. Hard Lessons from Soft Power: Global Environmental Governance and the Pulp Mill (Gale)

Sue Neales, Mercury: Mill battle leaves locals war-weary

MANY Tamar Valley residents are desperately tired from the “emotionally draining” debate over the past six years about the proposed $2.5 billion pulp mill.

The unexpected response among both opponents and supporters of the mill is one of the findings of a social sustainability report commissioned by Gunns.

The survey of 72 locals and community representatives found, perhaps unsurprisingly, that the proposed Gunns pulp mill remained controversial and divisive.

It also revealed a deep “scepticism of Gunns as an environmental custodian”, a “chronic distrust” of the timber firm in many sections of the community and a lingering reputation for the company as a “bully”.

“This distrust means Gunns has been unable to be convincing with claims of the environmental diligence of the mill,” the report by Melbourne sustainability adviser Pax Populus said.

“Gunns suffers such low levels of trust [it] hampers its ability to garner support for its shift to a more modern paradigm, of which the pulp mill is the central strategic plank.”

Rest of the story HERE