South Sister St. Marys, Tasmania

FPA go back on their word

new evidence ignored

The Forest Practices Authority has gone back on their word to investigate any new evidence presented to them regarding Coupe NI 114A at South Sister.

In a letter from Graham Wilkinson, Chief Forest Practices Officer for Forest Practices Authority on February 25, 2005 he stated that FPA would '... consider any new information that is relevant to the logging of the coupe'. Yet new evidence was presented in February 2006 which has been ignored.

In that letter I stated that Ralph Rallings (Engineer working for Save our Sisters) ... believes there would be additional subsidence on Coupe NI 114A that has not yet been investigated. This subsidence relates to the Jubilee Mine.'

I also presented '... examples of unpredictable outcomes to South Sister's groundwater system since the upgrading of South Sister Road and the construction of the new coupe road ... in February 2005.' This included a description and photos of the areas concerned. I concluded with 'The relevance of these two examples of notable changes to water on the coupe is that the groundwater system on South Sister is obviously very fragile. It is not predictable what groundwater changes may occur if harvesting goes ahead. No one knows what may happen to water supplies that are currently being used by local residents. This is why we are asking FT to refrain from logging the coupe. It will be too late to reverse if negative changes occur.'

On February 15, 2005 I received an email from Wilkinson with a report from Peter McIntosh (FPA Senior Soil and Water Scientist) attached. This report pertained to an area on the north eastern part of the coupe - now known to be Slide B and DID NOT include any information or discussion about the 'new' evidence.

In his reply, Wilkinson stated 'I must inform you that I do not find anything in your emails of 3rd and 10th February 2006 that would justify the expenditure of further public monies and resources on continuing investigations. To the contrary, the recent work done by Dr McIntosh only serves to confirm our original findings that the proposed operations have negligible environmental risk ... Expert advice was sought in relation to the information contained in your emails of 3rd and 10th February 2006. That expert advice confirmed again that the proposed operations have negligible risk.'

In my reply reply to Wilkinson I stated that he had ... completely ignored my 'new' evidence' and 'I find it quite incredible that despite your claim that 'FPB will continue to consider any new information' my 'new' evidence outlined in my email of February 9, has been side stepped and ignored!'
Dr McIntosh's report failed to mention any of the new evidence I had presented.

On February 20 I received another reply stating
'I confirm that the FPA will continue to consider any new and substantive information relating to the proposed selective logging of a small, stable section of land at South Sister. Expert advice was sought in relation to the information contained in your emails of 3rd and 10th February 2006. That expert advice confirmed again that the proposed operations have negligible risk.'

In my (sent February 21, 2006) reply I again reiterated that he had '... not addressed this new information ...'
I pointed out that my 'new' information had not reached FPA until after McIntosh had revisited the coupe so I asked Wilkinson to '... please confirm to me whether 1) Dr McIntosh or anyone else has yet investigated the claims I raised regarding Jubilee mine and groundwater/surface water changes to the coupe and 2) if so, please can you forward their report?'

On February 27, 2006 I received the following reply from Wilkinson
'Your two emails of 22nd February 2006 were brought to the attention of the board of the Forest Practices Authority at its meeting of 24th February and the Chair will be formally responding to you in writing this week.'

On February 28, 2006 I received a letter from Isobel Stanley, Chair, Forest Practices Authority which stated ... The Forest Practices Authority has been, and remains, willing to consider any new matters of substance in relation to the potential environmental impact of forestry operations within the subject coupe. However, the Forest Practices Authority's considered judgement is that none of the points of disagreement that you raise provide any grounds for altering the 'negligible risk' assessment that has been made with respect to the proposed operations.'

She went on to say 'In view of the above the Forest Practices Authority considers that it cannot continue to engage with you on your points of disagreement. The Forest Practices Authority recommends that if you have any concerns about the Forest Practices Authorities role in the certification of the Forest Practices Plan then you should provide your evidence to the Tasmanian Ombudsman for independent review'

The 'new' evidence presented to FPA has not yet been investigated (if it has we have not been provided with any reports).

The questions raised in my emails to Wilkinson regarding this new evidence and whether they have ever been investigated have never been answered.

Despite repeated requests for involvement, to my knowledge Mineral Resources Tasmania has not yet been formally invited to be involved in this dispute despite being the 'experts' in Tasmania.

Despite repeated calls to FPA to hold a meeting between experts and other stakeholders to clarify misunderstandings and discuss the issues, FPA have ignored my requests.

Despite repeated letters to the Minister Bryan Green, replies are still outstanding.

What sort of state do we live in when we are told something repeatedly yet it is not acted upon?

To date there have been two variations to the certified plan for Coupe NI 114a on South Sister BOTH of which came about because of information provided to FPA regarding this coupe. These changes included:

A complaint has been made to the Ombudsman (March 9, 2006) and we await a response.

Please write or ring talkback radio and letters to the Editor or write to the Minister to ask him to intervene.

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