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Issue # 1401      4 March 2009

Council message to Garrett:
Stop Tarkine Road

The decision last week by Waratah-Wynyard Council to oppose the destructive Tarkine Loop Road adds pressure to Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett to refuse approval.

Forestry Tasmania will need approval for the road under the Federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act. The forestry road’s impact on threatened species, including the Tasmanian Devil, means Mr Garrett must block the development, said Australian Greens deputy leader Senator Christine Milne.

“Peter Garrett now knows that Forestry Tasmania’s planned road through the Tarkine is not only environmentally destructive but also against the wishes of the local community,” said Senator Milne.

“The road Forestry Tasmania is proposing might be badged as a tourist route, but it is clearly all about propping up Forestry Tasmania’s flagging bottom line.

“Forestry Tasmania is in dire economic straights, with its debt increasing as royalties collapse and its Dismal Swamp venture a failure. It is stupid to build taxpayer funded roads to try to keep government business enterprises solvent.

“At the urging of the Greens, the federal government has already publicly stated that it will not fund this ecologically destructive road. The government should now step up and also make it clear that it will not approve the road.

“Locals know that there are better options for the region which would support long-term jobs in sustainable communities instead of propping up short-term destructive practices.”

Alternatives supported by the Greens include sealing the South Arthur Forest Drive to the Arthur River Township or sealing the road from Savage River to Corinna and on to Zeehan or Tullah.

“There is a real concern that the Tarkine Loop Road may facilitate the spread of the Devil Facial Tumour Disease into some of the last remaining unaffected Tasmanian Devil populations. If that comes to pass, the road may directly contribute to the Devil’s extinction in the wild.

“With that very real risk, Peter Garrett must step up to the plate and reject approval for this road, just as he outright rejected the Shoalwater Bay coal port because of its clear environmental impacts.

“Minister Garrett has the power to refuse approval if the project is so ecologically destructive that it would clearly breach the EPBC Act. This proposed road is a case in point.”  

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