A man has been arrested during a protest against the clear felling of a Forestry Tasmania coupe at Lapoinya in the state’s north-west. Source: ABC News
About 70 people attended the mostly peaceful protest outside the 49-hectare coupe, organised by the Friends of Lapoinya Action Group (FLAG).
Police said one man was arrested when they had to deal with nine people who they said entered the coupe illegally.
Three were fined $280 each for contravening the direction of a police officer, but one man was arrested and taken to the Burnie police station.
He was later charged with contravening the direction of a police officer, under Tasmania’s new Workplaces (Protection from Protestors) Act 2014, the first to be charged under the new laws.
Forestry Tasmania brought bulldozers into the coupe yesterday to begin widening the roads, and the company suspended operations for two hours while police dealt with the situation.
Acting Inspector Sergeant Simon Conroy told the ABC before the protest that powers under anti-workplace protest laws would be used if required.
“They range from simply removing protesters from the workplace, which would be the forestry coupe at Lapoinya, right through to arrest and prosecution,” he said.
The site has been closed off and roads have begun being cleared in preparation for logging in a fortnight.
FLAG’s convener Stewart Hoyt said the group’s members were feeling anxious.
“It just bodes so ill, and so worrisome, that the actions and the pleading and begging just goes unheeded by those in government,” he said.
“It’s forest that is made of three tiers, it’s got old growth in it, it’s got mature growth, and it’s got juvenile growth.
“You have all different habitat, with all different animals and for a small area it’s extraordinarily rich.
“It is the headwaters and the breeding ground and the growing ground of the giant fresh water crayfish, and there’s not much of that around left.”
Forestry Tasmania maintains it has completed the necessary environmental checks and balances to proceed.
Manager of operations Nigel Foss said it was a re-growth coupe that had been harvested before.
“It’s not a national park, it’s not a reserve, and as part of the operation we’ve considered all the special values that are associated with this coupe,” he said.
Mr Foss said special consideration had been given to a crayfish population that lived in a stream inside the area.
“We’ve exceeded the requirements of the forestry practices code to maintain stream side reserves,” he said.
“On the creek, we’re maintaining stream side reserves to the width of 60 metres.
“In addition to that, there are drainage suppressions, which aren’t carrying water at the moment.
“Whilst we’re not required to do it, we are retaining 20-metre buffers on those areas as well.”
He said Forestry Tasmania had not found any Tasmanian Devil dens inside the area.
“If we do find a devil’s den, we have prescriptions within our plan and we will suspend operations near that area and seek specialist advice,” he said.
Forestry Tasmania is expected to spend two weeks widening the roads, before a four to six week harvesting operation.
FLAG said it planned to continue campaigning against the operation.