South Sister St. Marys, Tasmania

South Sister gets another reprive

final hearing in October, 2005

The Final Hearing, due to start June 6 for Save our Sisters v Forestry Tasmania has been postponed until October.

Experts for SOS performed field studies in April and prepared proofs of evidence which were submitted to the Tribunal on May 9. Due to their evidence, an application to amend the Grounds of Application was made. In an earlier decision by RMPAT, some of our claims had been dismissed but with evidence from experts to support these claims, SOS sought to have them reinstated (along with additional points). Forestry Tasmania did not support the amendments therefore a Directions Hearing was held in Hobart on May 13 to hear the conflicting views. The pro-bono barrister did an excellent job in putting our case forward. The Tribunal failed to reach a decision during the Hearing and asked for additional information which was submitted the following week May 18, 2005.

On late Friday May 27, 2005 RMPAT accepted all suggested amendments which means it will be easier for the barristers to fight our case i.e. that environmental pollution will be caused if logging proceeds as proposed by FT. The window of opportunity for us has always been very narrow (despite overwhelming evidence that logging will have serious consequences for individuals and the local community). The Environmental Management and Pollution Control Act (EMPCA) is the only opportunity we have of stopping the logging. Water and soil are the pollutants (clogging of subsurface conduits, increase in groundwater in the first few years leading to an increase risk of landslides etc). With the amendments accepted we certainly have a better chance of success and SOS members are delighted with the decision to accept all amendments.

Forestry Tasmania had insufficient time to respond to the amendments prior to the Final Hearing scheduled for Jun 6 - 8. (Their evidence was due 2 weeks after our evidence was submitted but due to our application this was on hold). Therefore the Final Hearing has now been rescheduled for October 3 - 7 which will include a field visit to the site by the Tribunal members. Forestry Tasmania has until August 19 to submit their evidence to RMPAT (considered to be a very long time by SOS when we had much less time). SOS experts will then have two weeks to respond to their evidence.

 

FT has agreed not to log in the interim period (they had previously agreed not to log until a decision of the June 6 Hearing as applicants were unsuccessful in obtaining a temporary order) but we still await news about the exclusion zone being lifted. There is absolutely NO reason why anyone should be excluded from the coupe - there are no safety issues but ... The original exclusion zone was in force from February 15 to June 30, 2005 so in theory it should just lapse rather than FT actively extending it. We wait with baited breath to see what they will do!

SOS was disappointed with John Howard's announcement regarding South Sister. An application had been made and lobbying was intense to have this included in the reserved area. However, SOS members will not be deterred. We are confident of success in October and aim to have the area designated a reserve.

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