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HC rejects Blue Derby Wild appeal to halt logging in Tasmania

The High Court of Australia has rejected an appeal by environmental activist group Blue Derby Wild to halt logging in a forest near Derby in the Tasmania’s north-east. Source: Timberbiz

Chief Justice Stephen Gageler ruled that the group had no special interest in the case beyond general concerns about logging.

Blue Derby Wild had applied for special leave to appeal a decision made earlier this month in the Supreme Court of Tasmania, but its application was refused.

The Mercury reported that the High Court refusal meant Tasmania’s state government forester, Sustainable Timber Tasmania, has free reign to immediately continue logging the two coupes that have now been the subject of a dispute lasting years.

Sitting in Canberra, the most senior judge in Australia said he agreed with the Full Court of the Supreme Court of Tasmania that Blue Derby Wild did not have “standing” to take part in the fight.

Chief Justice of Australia Stephen Gageler said as a result, he would not hear an appeal from Blue Derby Wild.

The Mercury reported that meant the environmental group cannot contest STT’s logging plans, as it did not have a special interest in the logging operations or was a “person aggrieved”, other than being a group supporting the broad notion of environmental protection.

The ruling also means Blue Derby Wild will not get to argue its long-held “conflict of interest” and bias case that STT employees wore “two hats” by simultaneously working for the Forest Practices Authority and by certifying their own plans for logging the coupes.

Sustainable Timber Tasmania welcomed Tuesday’s decision after a four-year delay due to legal challenges and plans to commence logging as soon as possible.

Pulse Tasmania reported that Blue Derby Wild Campaign Coordinator Louise Morris expressed disappointment at the ruling, saying that it restricts the ability of community groups to defend natural places.

Despite the “setback”, the group told Pulse Tasmania it would continue its longstanding campaign to end native forest logging.

Resources Minister Eric Abetz praised the High Court decision, saying it was welcome news for the forestry industry that supports the livelihoods of over 5,000 Tasmanians.

“The decision provides further confidence that Tasmania’s forest practices system is well-managed, robust and best practice,” he said.

“It also further underlines the extreme extent that green groups are prepared to go in their efforts to end sustainable native forestry, at great expense to the taxpayer.”

He said Tasmania’s forestry families could rest assured the Tasmanian Government would always back them.