South Sister St. Marys, Tasmania

South Sister Correspondence

'failure of due diligence'

Ms. I Stanley,
Chair,
Forest Practices Authority,
30 Patrick Street,
HOBART 7000
22nd December 2005

Dear Ms Stanley,

SOUTH SISTER - COUPE NI 114A
Revocation of Plan PWJ 0010

I write to request that the Forest Practice Authority revoke or vary the above Plan. Although the Plan has been certified in accordance with due process, the information provided and considered in this process in respect of water is inadequate, flawed, and defective, as a result of a lack of scientific method, a failure of due diligence by and a lack of qualification of officers of Forestry Tasmania and the Forest Practices Board whose knowledge and advice was relied upon in the preparation of the Plan. There was a failure to obtain relevant site information in respect of the coupe hydrology, which is universally recognised as being dominated by groundwater hydraulics: consequently there are no adequate or relevant prescriptions contained within the Plan to protect the particular water values of the coupe.

The Forest Practices Act 1985 provides that the Forest Practices Code shall prescribe the manner in which forest practices are to be conducted so as to provide reasonable protection of the environment, including water quality and flow which are potentially affected by forest operations and are to be considered at the planning stage. Planning involves the collection of site information. Forest Practices are to take into account local conditions, including drainage characteristics, and management requirements are to ensure adequate protection of water. Special consideration is required in respect of operations which potentially affect water quality in a listed town water supply and/or are within 2km upstream of a town water supply intake, or recharge area. The Code recognises that forest operations have a potential for offsite impacts.

Dr S Roberts (Forestry Tasmania), Dr P McIntosh (Forest Practices Board),and Mr P Rosevears (Forestry Tasmania) have demonstrated such a failure of due diligence in obtaining and assessing relevant information within their area of responsibility in planning the coupe as to invalidate the Plan, and Dr S Roberts and Dr P McIntosh do not have the necessary qualifications to address the issues of underground water upon which they have reported.

I attach an APPENDIX to this letter substantiating the above claims. I ask that the Authority require Forestry Tasmania not to proceed with operations under this Plan until it has fully considered the matter and made a determination.

It is emphasised that the hydrological values of this particular coupe require assessment over and above the level that might normally be applied to a forestry operation, given the proximity to human settlement and that surrounding properties and the town of St Marys derive their water supplies from groundwater, and that Forestry Tasmania subscribes to the precautionary principle and the principle of inter-generational equity. The failure of Dr Roberts, Dr McIntosh and Mr Rosevears to enquire at even the most elementary level into the physical characteristics of the South Sister groundwater system is an even greater failure of due diligence than would be the case in planning a coupe where water has little or no significance to human settlement. The Forest Practices Code requires assessment of the potential impact of forestry operations on water. The absence of detailed provisions regarding groundwater is a deficiency of the Code, but not a justification for a lack of action to assess the nature of the entire hydrology regime of the coupe, including groundwater.

The evidence referred to herein demonstrates a lack of knowledge about the groundwater system of the coupe and a lack of action to obtain the necessary knowledge to allow the intent of the Code to provide reasonable protection of water to be implemented. Such lack of knowledge precludes decision making with reasonable certainty, and the precautionary principle should be applied.

In a determination to vary the provisions of the Plan, it is suggested that the following condition, or similar, be attached to the Plan in order to protect the groundwater system of the coupe from physical damage - that Forestry Tasmania refrain from carrying out further roading or harvesting operations until it has undertaken such studies, research, surveys, investigations, drilling, pumping, monitoring, recording, assessment and appraisals over a sufficient time to have acquired the necessary knowledge of the hydrogeological system in and around the coupe to allow an informed assessment of the risk of damage to the system that would result from carrying out forest operations on the coupe, and that assessment be agreed to by a panel of 5 independent professionals to be approved by RMPAT.

I look forward to your acknowledgement and response .

Yours sincerely
D W CLEMENT

[APPENDIX to this letter]

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