EDO Qld acted for The Wilderness Society (TWS) to challenge a decision by the Federal Environment Minister about matters that should be considered in his assessment of a proposed pulp mill in Tasmania. The case was discontinued when Gunns withdrew their application.
The Wilderness Society Inc. v Minister for Environment and Heritage ACD 12 of 2005
In 2004, Tasmanian logging company Gunns Ltd referred to the Minister for Environment and Heritage its proposal to build and operate a pulp mill. The Minister decided it was a controlled action requiring assessment.
The mill would source its timber from plantation and native forests in accordance with the guidelines set out in the Tasmanian Regional Forests Agreement (TRFA). The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) (EPBC Act) exempts actions conducted in accordance with an RFA from the Act. However, the proposed 30 year operation of the pulp mill would extend 20 years beyond the 2017 expiry of the TRFA.
In an important test case for the EPBC Act, TWS applied for judicial review in the Federal Court of the Minister’s decision to ignore likely impacts of logging to feed the proposed pulp mill on a World Heritage Area and on threatened species after the RFA expires in 2017. The Minister had dismissed these impacts as “speculative”.
A directions hearing was held and the case set down for hearing in October 2005. However, two months before the hearing, Gunns Ltd withdrew their referral and the case had to be discontinued.