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Gunnedah Timbers future on-hold

New South Wales state Environment Minister Rob Stokes said he would receive a report on the management of cypress forests in two State Conservation Areas, by the end of the month. Sources: ABC News

The Minister paid a visit to Gunnedah Timbers, to listen to the concerns of the Mill’s operators, regarding access to viable timber sources.

Mr Stokes said he can’t act until the Natural Resources Commission finalises it’s report on the management of cypress forests in the Brigalow and Nandewar State Conservation Areas, and hands it to government.

“I have to see the report, and digest its contents before I’ll be able to make a decision” he said.

“I’d love to be able to act sooner, but I can’t, I literally have to wait to get that advice.

“There was a process established by the former Premier, and I have to abide by that process, and see what opportunities that report might provide to government.”

Mr Stokes said his actions would depend on what the NRC recommends.

“As Environment Minister, obviously I have to be conscious that my role in government is to ensure that the natural values of reserved lands are appropriately protected,” he said.

“I’ll be keen to see what can be done in the context of what the Natural Resources Commission come up with in their report.”

The owner of Gunnedah Timbers, Patrick Paul, said he’s got up to six months left before he runs out of suitably sized timber to access.

Mr Paul says he’s pleased with the response from new Environment Minister Rob Stokes. He said he’s confident the Minister understands the importance of the issue.

“We’re looking to either transfer some of the timber back to Forestry Corporation, or be able to thin some of the Conservation Areas,” he said.

“We showed [the Minister] through the Mill, he was very enlightened by what he saw, and now he’s become more aware and understanding of Gunnedah Timbers and its 27 loyal employees.”

Mr Paul said he has enough timber to last until August, but he can’t hold on much longer.

“[The Minister’s] waiting on the report to be tabled basically from the Natural Resource Commission, and then it goes to the Cabinet Meeting, and then we believe it goes to public consultation,” Mr Paul said.

“They make a decision maybe in August, we believe. “We definitely have enough timber to keep us going til August, but we’ll need a decision before the end of the year.”