South Sister St. Marys, Tasmania

South Sister

email to attorney-general

From: Environmental Defenders Office (Tas.) Inc.
To: Ms Judy Jackson MHA, Attorney-General
Date: 8 March, 2005
[email addresses redacted]

Dear Ms Jackson

South Sister Forestry Operations

We act for a number of residents who live in the vicinity of proposed logging coupe NI 114A at South Sister, St Marys.

As you may be aware, these residents have made an application to the Resource Management and Planning Appeal Tribunal for orders restraining forestry operations on the Coupe pursuant to section 48 of the Environmental Management and Pollution Control Act 1994 (EMPCA). This application alleges that forestry operations on the Coupe will cause environmental harm by:

We understand that you have already been supplied with the following reports regarding these potential impacts:

Dr Frances Daily has advised that copies of all reports were sent to you on 7 February 2005 (in your capacity as Minister for Planning and Environment), other than the report of Dr Ingles, which was forwarded to you by email on 20 February 2005. If you have not received any of these reports, please contact us and we will provide copies.

At the preliminary hearing on 4 March 2005, the Chairman of the Tribunal found that there was a prima facie case and the matter has been listed for a merits hearing on 6-8 June 2005. However, the Chairman refused the application for temporary orders restraining forestry operations until the final hearing. This application was refused because the applicants were not able to give an undertaking to cover financial losses, estimated by Forestry Tasmania to be $50,000 per week. A copy of this decision is attached.

We consider this a very unsatisfactory result. The Tribunal has accepted that the applicants have raised serious concerns regarding potential environmental harm caused by timber harvesting on the Coupe. However, if forestry operations are not suspended, it is likely that harvesting will be completed by the time of the final hearing. As a consequence, a merits hearing of this matter in June will be a largely futile exercise.

We therefore request that the Attorney-General consider seeking orders to restrain forestry operations on Coupe NI 114A until the Tribunal has determined this matter. For actions taken in the public interest, the Attorney-General would not be required to give an undertaking as to damages.

Thank you for your assistance with this matter. If you require any further information regarding this issue, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Yours faithfully,
Environmental Defenders Office (Tas) Inc.

Jessica Feehely
Principal Lawyer
Attach: Tribunal decision J51/2005

The Attorney-General's reply of 2005/03/31 consisted of:

I have now been advised that FT will defer harvesting until after the RMPAT has heard the matter in June. Therefore the question of whether it would be appropriate for me to seek orders to restrain these activities, as you have requested, does not arise.

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