Convoy against proposed woodchip mill

November 29, 2000


HOBART — Residents of two rural municipalities, Huon Valley and Kingborough, are organising a convoy to converge at Parliament House on December 10. The gathering is designed to build support among city people for the campaign against the proposed Southwood project, which includes a woodchip mill and wood fired power station.

Southwood will be built in the Huon Valley and utilise roads and unpolluted waterways in both municipalities to transport the product from the site.

Neil Cremasco from Concerned Residents of the Upper Huon told Green Left Weekly that large numbers of residents from the two regions are deeply suspicious of the project. This is largely because the government and Forestry Tasmania (who are behind the project) have been unable to answer basic questions about the possible adverse effects on the environment, as well as endure scrutiny over the optimistic claims of economic benefits (such as 200 new jobs) to flow from the project.

Cremasco said "it is widely believed that skilled workers from outside the two municipalities, or even interstate, will take most of the jobs, thereby leaving static the high youth unemployment problems in the areas. In this context, they can't even answer questions about the numbers of skilled verses unskilled jobs that will result from what will be a highly mechanised project."

Cremasco also said that the main motivation for any big company taking up the development would be to maximise profits without regard for employment levels. Despite this, "when it comes to the crunch, the developers want the community to write them a blank cheque for this whole project."

The project will include a wood-fired power station, which will burn woodchips, branches and other forest waste from clear felling operations. "Proponents have been totally unable to tell us about the amount and type of emissions from the wood-fired power generator, which will feed into the electricity grid. Similar generators in other parts of the world emit significant amounts of greenhouse gases and other chemicals, which can contribute to acid rain. They simply tell us that we'll find these things out when a buyer for the project is found, but by then it may already be approved!"

According to Cremasco, proponents still haven't addressed the vexing questions about the number of woodchip trucks thundering along quiet country roads every 8 minutes or so. "They also have trouble justifying their claim that the project will be built on 'sustainable timber practices' when in fact it will facilitate increased clear felling of native forests to be replaced by plantation monocultures, along with the poisoning of wildlife with 1080 poison".

A website dealing with this issue has been launched at <>. The convoy will converge at Parliament House at 12.30pm.

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