Mr Greg L’Estrange, Managing Director of Gunns Ltd posted a letter dated 25 January 2011 to Bob McMahon, spokesman for TAP, inviting TAP to a private briefing. It is a remarkable letter, the first and only one from Gunns to TAP since the pulp mill was mooted. It also refers a number of times to the ‘survival of Gunns Ltd’ and will be of keen interest to shareholders.
Download letter: Gunns_letter_to_TAP_25_Jan_2011.pdf
Reply from Bob McMahon, TAP Into A Better Tasmania to Mr Greg L’Estrange, Gunns Ltd ...
3 February 2011
Mr Greg L’Estrange
Dear Mr L’Estrange
Re: Gunns letter of 25 January 2011
Thank you for your letter of 25 January 2011 inviting TAP Into A Better Tasmania (TAP) to help make Gunns’ planned pulp mill a better project.
We note in passing that this appears to be the first letter Gunns has sent to TAP in nearly 6 years of campaigning on the pulp mill and wood supply issues. Your letter is couched in terms of urgency and ‘survival of Gunns’; that community involvement ‘needs to happen now’.
We also note that the adverse factors impinging on Gunns’ survival listed in your letter are about external market forces. There is no acknowledgment of the strong ongoing signals from within Tasmania about the negative impacts of your company’s operations and proposed pulp mill on the health, welfare and livelihood of the Tasmanian people.
Your hopes for Gunns’ survival appear predicated on the acceptability of plantation feedstock, as included in the Forest Principles Agreement which supports a plantation-based pulp mill. We would like to point out that whilst this Agreement was signed off by a few environment groups, they are not the community and many serious issues with the plantation feedstock remain unaddressed. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification process addresses those issues and renders the Forest Principles deal redundant. We note that Gunns Ltd has withdrawn its Tasmanian operations from the next stage of assessment after the company was advised by the Rainforest Alliance assessors of serious gaps between its modus operandi and that accepted by FSC.
As an organisation representing the broad interests of the community, TAP believes in open sharing of information rather than closed meetings with secret agreements. We have learned not to trust claims by your company and have documented over 231 instances of what we believe are potentially misleading claims published by Gunns since December 2004.
Download your copy from http://tapvision.info/node/199.
Many issues with your proposed pulp mill and its wood supply were not examined by the then RPDC and Government pulp mill fast-track consultants, and pose a risk to both communities and potential joint venture partners.
Many politicians, local councillors and business groups rushed to give their seal of approval to the proposed pulp mill before it was even assessed. This is a fundamental flaw in the process and TAP is not about to approve an ‘improved’ pulp mill on the basis of a private briefing given by Gunns to a few individuals of limited expertise.
Consequently, we will not accept your invitation to a private briefing but propose instead a number of key questions for Gunns to answer. Your answers, or lack of, will be published online at http://www.tapvision.info and http://www.tasmaniantimes.com. We hope you will seriously consider this proposal for the benefit not just of Gunns and any joint venture partners but crucially of all Tasmanians.
1. Will you submit your proposed pulp mill project for a complete and independent assessment?
2. Will you ask the State Government to rescind Section 11 of the Pulp Mill Assessment Act 2007?
3. Will you offer to buy out property and business owners affected by your proposed pulp mill as did Visy with its Tumut mill in New South Wales?
4. Will you publish the FSC Gap Analysis results including Corrective Action Requests affecting pulp mill plantation feedstock?
As you will be aware, two thirds of Tasmanians have consistently opposed your planned pulp mill and, unlike the State government, TAP research has documented the issues driving public opinion. Logging in high-conservation value forests is merely one of many issues. A short list of issues with your pulp mill proposal is given below for your information.
Plantations wood supply and forest management issues
• Sickness in rural communities caused by exposure to aerial spraying of plantations.
• Burning of high quality timber in coupes.
• Basic human rights overridden by Private Timber Reserves.
• Failure of self-policing of forest regulations and accountability.
• Impact of plantations on food production.
• Reduced water quality and quantity in catchments with large plantations.
• Community disenfranchised on forest management issues that impact on their health and jobs.
• Diversion of taxpayer funds to Gunns and forestry interests at expense of social services, e.g. health and education.
• Siltation of the Tamar river; approximately half of silt comes from forest operations.
• Harm to health and reduced life expectancy from forestry burnoff smoke.
• Habitat destruction; one of the highest in the developed world.
• Loss of landscape heritage due to logging.
Pulp mill issues
• Section 11 of the PMAA 2007 contravenes basic human rights to access the courts for compensation for harm caused by the pulp mill.
• Lack of independent assessment of Gunns’ proposal which was ‘critically non-compliant’ according to the RPDC.
• Failure to address issues of odour impact on health, businesses and amenity within the RPDC’s 55km wide odour impact zone.
• Loss of approximately $2 billion in property values in the Tamar valley.
• Safety risks from artificial pulp mill fogs enveloping the East Tamar Highway combined with ‘one a minute’ log truck and heavy vehicle movements.
• Loss of existing jobs and investments in businesses that will be displaced by the planned pulp mill and its plantation wood supply. These include tourism ventures, wineries, organic foods and fishing that depend on a clean green image.
Tasmanian Public & Environmental Health Network (TPEHN)
Human health before forestry business
6 February 2011
The Tasmanian Public and Environmental Health Network (TPEHN) congratulates TAP Into A Better Tasmania (formerly Tasmanians against the Pulpmill) and Bob McMahon for publicising the correspondence between Gunns and TAP, allowing the public airing of many of the problems involved with the ‘business of forestry’ in Tasmania:
This ‘business of forestry’ ultimately affects all the people of Tasmania and the Government’s approval has been implicit during the recent private and secretive ‘round table negotiations’.
Additionally, the current sleight of hand approach allowed by Governments at all levels has effectively dumped major human and environmental health problems outside the negotiating room and left them in ‘no man’s land’.
For TPEHN, this approach is not acceptable as these issues are long standing and urgently require addressing.
We demand that the new Tasmania Premier, Lara Giddings, and all Governments put public health as their No. 1 priority BEFORE forestry development.
“In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual.”
Quoted in Arago, Eulogy of Galileo (1874)
Monday: Forestry group defends new contractors
A national forestry group has defended a Tasmanian company’s decision to hire forest contractors when others have been paid to quit the industry.
Some former forest contractors are concerned that a Tasmanian forestry company wants to hire new contractors, after the Federal Government provided $17 million to pay others to leave the industry.
The Chair of the Australian Forest Contractors Association, Colin McCulloch says those left in the industry may be unable or unwilling to work.
“Whether they’re paying too little to attract existing players or not I don’t know, but it seems a bit strange,” he said.
Mr McCulloch says there is a loophole in the Tasmanian forestry Statement of Principles which would allow new players to be brought into the industry, but he says he can not understand why anyone would want to start logging in Tasmania, especially as more contractors will be unemployed when Gunns closes its Tamar Valley woodchip mill at the end of March.
Dear Mr. L’Estrange,
Thank you for the opportunity to attend your proposed briefing on the detail of Gunns’ limited vision for the future and “world’s best” pulp mill claim.
Mr. L’Estrange, do you seriously believe that we wish to listen to your “judgment of what is needed to secure Gunns survival,” given the way that Gunns has behaved with such arrogance towards us for the past 6 years?
When Gunns chose to withdraw from a thorough and independent assessment process, and helped to create the Pulp Mill Assessment Act with its totally unconstitutional section 11, this project (and Gunns), lost all integrity and now will never a be world class mill. As I said to you at Gunns AGM in 2010, this mill will never have a social licence. You may strive all you like towards what you call a “cuddly” social-licence-to-operate, but you will never have the support from the majority of the people of Tasmania.
You say you “hear the pain that is being felt as a consequence of some of Gunns more difficult decisions”; then listen harder, Mr. L’Estrange and hear the pain of the residents of the Tamar Valley. We have been expressing our rage; grief and anguish over the potential loss to our businesses, lifestyles, clean air and ocean for the past 6 years, and you continue to ignore our concerns.
Gunns Limited’s refusal to conduct an open, thorough and transparent appraisal of the social, environmental and economic costs that the proposed pulp mill would impose on 100,000+ people who live in this beautiful valley, including all the creatures who thrive in our environment, seriously questions the validity of claims about ‘operating within a social and economic context’.
We will only engage in meaningful and constructive group discussion when Gunns commits to ensure that the Pulp Mill Assessment Act is repealed and when the environmental and social impact from the pulp mill is thoroughly assessed.
Until that time, any discussion is a meaningless token effort, not genuine action and commitment to meet community and stakeholder concerns.
Rest assured, Mr. L’Estrange, that we will continue to pursue the matter publicly, politically and legally. We will never give up. The health and welfare of our environment and our community are our first priorities.
I pray that Gunns swiftly acknowledges the reality that corrupt process plus inadequate assessment equals NO TAMAR VALLEY PULP MILL, EVER.
Sincerely, Lucy Landon-Lane (For Pulp the Mill Inc.)
Articles, MRs, first published: 2011-02-05 11:26 AM