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florentine-1Police move in on protestors at Camp Flozza in the Florentine Valley. Photographer: Niki Davis-Jones

Anti-logging protesters have clashed with police in the Upper Florentine Valley in Tasmania’s south.

Up to 200 protestors tried to march onto Forestry Tasmania land this morning and more than a dozen were arrested after forcing their way through a police line.

One protestor stopped forest workers by chaining himself to machinery, while four people remain in tree sits at the site of a protest camp that was broken up early this week.

The march was in response to the police breaking up a protest camp on Monday to allow Forestry Tasmania to build a road through the area.

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The federal government has refused to give the final green light to the $2.2 billion Tamar Valley pulp mill.

In a shock development, federal environment minister Peter Garrett announced in Sydney early this afternoon that he had knocked back three of the required 12 environmental permits for the Gunns pulp mill.

Mr Garrett said federal environmental approval for the proposed Tasmanian pulp mill would not be granted until detailed studies on the potential marine impacts have been completed.

More here.

Shares in Tasmanian timber company Gunns have plunged more than 15 per cent in early trade today despite a general rise in the stock market. This morning the company’s shares were down 17 cents to just 88 cents.

Yesterday former Tasmanian Premier Paul Lennon conceded Gunns’ proposed $2 billion pulp mill appears to have been shelved. Mr Lennon told a parliamentary committee the project “may not be alive”.

UPDATE: November 21, they’re down to 75 cents.

UPDATE: November 24, now 64 cents …

gunns.jpgThe proposed mill

Timber company Gunns has admitted for the first time its planned Tamar Valley pulp mill may never be built.

The troubled company announced its annual results on the Australian Stock Exchange on August 28, reporting a net profit after tax of $64.5m for the 2008 financial year.

That represents a drop of about 27 per cent on last year’s result.

The result is also lower than a recent downgraded profit forecast of $67m.

Gunns statement says it is still pursuing finance for its planned $2b pulp mill, but has for the first time admitted it may never be built.

Shares in the company recently slumped by 25 per cent in three days and its price closed at $1.67 before a trading halt was announced last week.

[from ABC News]

Today is the 25th anniversary of the High Court’s decision to block the Franklin Dam in Tasmania’s south-west Wilderness.

In 1982 Tasmanians elected a Liberal Government for the first time ever. The Premier, Robin Gray, had campaigned on building the Franklin Dam.

After losing the battle to save Lake Pedder from being dammed in the 1970s conservationists launched a highly co-ordinated battle to save the Franklin River, beginning in late 1982.

Over three months about 6,000 protesters blockaded the river and construction roads.

Current Australian Greens leader Bob Brown was among the hundreds sent to jail.

“I came out of jail and the next day found myself a member of Parliament,” said Senator Brown.

One of Tasmania’s Supreme Court judges, Pierre Slicer, also ended up in jail for three weeks.

“And I’m the only judge in Australia that I know of who’s been refused bail by his own Chief Justice,” he said.

In 1983, the then Labor Prime Minister, Bob Hawke, took the Tasmanian Government to the High Court. It decided by just one vote to allow the Federal Government to stop Tasmania building the dam. Later that year, Mr Hawke provided Tasmania with $276 million in compensation.


Say no more.


Mercury photograph

Forestry Tasmania’s controversial annual autumn burn-off started yesterday prompting the Asthma Foundation to warn people with respiratory problems to stay inside away from the smoke.

Curiously, the burns started on the same day Premier Paul Lennon announced international consultancy Parsons Brinckerhoff would be engaged to audit the Government’s greenhouse emissions.

The first burn of the season was near Railton, in the state’s North-West.

A further six burns are planned for the Florentine Valley in the state’s south over the weekend.

Burnoff details can be found here.

Forestry Tasmania’s Fire Management branch manager Tony Blanks said the burns were expected to run throughout the autumn.

Welcome to clean, green Tasmania.

Angry Hobart aldermen have branded Targa Tasmania as ‘organised hooning’ and its competitors ‘environmental bandits’.

Eva Ruzicka and Bill Harvey came out firing in their decision not to approve a proposed Targa stage on the Domain in April.

‘It’s organised hooning, and we’ve a problem with hooning on our streets,’ Mr Harvey said. ‘Targa actively encourages that behaviour.'”

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Hydro Tasmania says it cannot guarantee water supplies to the $2 billion Gunns Limited pulp mill.

The news comes as water flows in the South Esk basin plummet because of drought.

As well, Hydro Tasmania has reduced generation and thus water releases from Great Lake.

The level of the lake has dropped to 15.9 per cent of capacity ahead of a weekend of high evaporation because of hot weather.

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The Tasmanian Government will introduce legislation to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions by 60 percent by the year 2050.

Premier Paul Lennon says the target will be based in 1990 levels.

He says the government’s car fleet will be carbon neutral by mid 2010 and State Cabinet will consider making it mandatory for major government buildings to have solar power and hot water installed.

Mr Lennon has also announced an agreement with Greening Australia to offset the government’s air travel.