Paul Lennon, Tasmania deputy premier, says the guidelines, which were last reviewed in 1995, are now grossly out of date, especially with the major advances in pulp mill technology years and notable improvement in environmental performance over the past eight years.
Lennon recently took a trip to Scandinavia to research the issue, and was made against the background of the State’s strong and improving economic performance, and the Government’s priority to encourage value-adding developments.
“The need to update our guidelines became abundantly clear when I visited Scandinavia in August. Using best available technology, Finland and Sweden have been able to significantly reduce effluent and these Minimal Impact pulp mills have been able to win the broad support of the local community,” says Lennon.
“We want to see more of our forest products processed here using the best practices which apply in Europe and Scandinavia. We have asked for this review in the knowledge that it will lead to more stringent standards for pulp mill developments, and will send a clear signal to potential investors that we want their business, but we want them to know and understand the expectations of the Tasmanian community before they make their applications.”
He says the State Government was keen to explore every avenue to increase the downstream processing of the State’s natural resources, with a Minimal Impact Pulp Mill a major priority.
“We hope that through this review and the development of firm guidelines, companies will be encouraged to seriously consider the opportunities that exist in Tasmania. There is little likelihood that the private sector will be prepared to seriously investigate a pulp mill project in Tasmania, unless the rules are clearly established in advance,” says Lennon.
“In the new Tasmania we are building, we will not accept second best. The best available techniques should be applied and they will be required. As well, once the guidelines have been brought up to scratch, we will not allow proposals to be fast-tracked. Any application will have to go through a rigorous assessment process, which is likely to take 12 to 18 months to complete. We are taking the initiative on this as a clear signal that we are serious about value-adding our forest products, but will not compromise on standards.”
Comment below to have your say on this story.
If you have a news story or tip-off, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sign up to the Sprinter newsletter