South Sister St. Marys, Tasmania

South Sister Correspondence

email to chief forest practices officer

[this email follows from the response to our email of 2006/01/16 where Mr Wilkinson sought our reasons for withdrawing from the Tribunal hearing]

From: Frances Daily
To: Graham Wilkinson
Sent: Thursday, January 26, 2006 5:52 PM
[email addresses redacted]

Dear Graham,

Re: invitation to South Sister

Thank you for your reply. I am happy to have the opportunity to answer your question as to why we (Applicants) withdrew from RMPAT. I believe that there has been many incorrect assumptions and misinformation about why the applicants withdrew and therefore feel that it is important that you understand the valid reasons for such action.

As you are aware, the applicants were eager to have the matter argued before the Tribunal. However, to our great disappointment, the burden and standard of proof required for a successful civil enforcement action under EMPCA proved impossible to meet in the absence of comprehensive studies. In particular, the lack of information regarding water quantity meant that it was too difficult to demonstrate one way or the other what the impact of harvesting on local water supplies will be. However, withdrawal from RMPAT is no concession on our part that the harvesting will not have a negative impact on water supplies, simply that there is currently insufficient evidence about the impacts. We therefore urge the FPA to adopt a precautionary approach, on the basis of the genuine, scientific concerns raised by our group.

In addition, evidence submitted on behalf of Forestry Tasmania several days before the hearing caused one of our experts, David Stapledon to revise his assessment of the landslide risk from 'likely' to 'possible', based on a revised assessment of drainage patterns on the coupe. Our other landslide expert, Mr Rallings, maintained that a landslide was 'likely' in the event that harvesting goes ahead. However, with one expert changing his view, we were not willing to continue with the hearing.

(For more information on 'likely' and 'possible' I would like to refer you to Ralph Rallings' review paper for a further explanation about 'likely' and 'possible' (pp 4, 5 and Attachment 2)

Because of the short time frame between receiving the second reports of FT's experts and the start of the RMPAT hearing, and being conscious of the expenses being incurred by both parties, our experts were forced to review the information submitted on 28 September 2005 very quickly and without revisiting the South Sister. Following our decision to withdraw from the Tribunal process, Mr Rallings visited the site and confirmed that information provided in the late Forestry reports was in fact incorrect (McIntosh/Weldon September 27, 2005). The report

  1. identified the wrong 'graben' feature (which was totally surprising to us as the 'graben' feature identified by Stapledon is easily found) and
  2. the road batter collapse had been mislocated by some distance.

You mentioned in your letter of January 25, 2006 ' ... it is appropriate that the FPA should review any new and significant information that has come to light since the termination of the RMPAT action, and I am fully prepared to do that as indicated above.'

Ralph Rallings Review Paper of December 2005, provides detailed information regarding the 'road batter collapse' which is new and significant (and is central to the landslide argument). I therefore call on you to follow this up immediately. I also ask you to call on Mineral Resources Tasmania or an MRT appointed external and independent person(s) so that this issue can be independently assessed. This review should consider all information and evidence gathered to date and include further field studies. Whilst I respect the position of FT's experts, some experts could be considered as 'generalists' who may require further specialist assistance at times from others more specialized and experienced in certain areas.

In addition, I believe that a further visit by you to South Sister to clarify for yourself the position of the 'road batter collapse', its relationship to the German Town Spring, 'loading bay' and 'graben' feature is extremely important and will help you to understand our concerns better. I could possibly arrange for Ralph Rallings to accompany you to explain further and to show you other important features of the coupe such as Zone E, Zone S and the (presumably) excluded subsidence over Cardiff Mine which FT recently agreed to exclude from harvesting.

I have been advocating for a meeting between experts (FT and SOS experts), Mineral Resources Tasmania, FPA, FT and SOS representatives to discuss the many issues mentioned for a few months however disappointingly, it has not been considered necessary by FPA. As there is much misinformation and miscommunication about the evidence, I do believe that a meeting to discuss the issues is required and I implore you to organize it as soon as the review has been completed.

In summary:

We are seeking a review by the FPA on the following grounds:

  1. That the basis for the FPA's experts' opinion regarding the likelihood of landslide activity is based on a mislocation of an important feature, the road batter collapse.
  2. The 'graben' feature identified by Stapledon was never identified by McIntosh/Weldon - instead, they identified another presumably human made feature some distance from the original 'graben' feature. Stapledon's 'graben' feature is yet to be investigated
  3. While there was insufficient evidence regarding impacts on water quantity to prove that water supplies will be affected (for the purposes of demonstrating environmental harm), there is ample evidence to suggest that such an impact is possible and further studies are required before any action is carried out that may threaten water supplies.
  4. We consider that MRT should become involved in this review and/or an MRT appointed independent assessor or panel.

I am hopeful that you will accept my invitation to visit the South Sister in the very near future for reasons outlined above.

I assume you have a copy of Rallings' review. If not please let me know and I will forward you a copy.

Finally, until I hear from you again, I trust that you will ask FT to refrain from logging until you have visited South Sister and MRT or and independent panel have reviewed and investigated all claims. Thereafter, I hope you will arrange a meeting between those mentioned above.

I look forward to your reply.

Yours sincerely,

Frances Daily

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