Energy and Resources Minister, David Llewellyn, today introduced legislation to clarify the legal status of the Pulp Mill Approval Permit.
“This amendment in no way alters or weakens the environmental criteria that the mill has to meet,” Llewellyn said.
“At the time the Pulp Mill Assessment Act was passed it was not thought necessary for it to contain a date at which the Permit would cease to exist.
“Nor was it considered necessary to specifically address provisions relating to the expiry of permits, licences or other approvals contained in other Acts that may apply to the Pulp Mill.
“Last month the Government received advice from the Solicitor-General that uncertainty had arisen about whether the pulp mill permit had an expiry date, and if so, whether the date had passed.
“There are differing legal views about this issue that, without legislative clarification, could only be resolved by a court.”
Llewellyn said that because of the size and complexity of the project and it not going ahead as fast as envisaged, clarifying legislation was needed to end the legal uncertainties.
“In addition, without legislation to clarify the legal uncertainty regarding the lapse of approvals contained in the Pulp Mill Permit, it would be difficult for statutory regulators to regulate the project.”
Llewellyn said that given the complexity and size of the project, it was reasonable to extend the Pulp Mill Permit until August 30, 2011 to allow the company to “substantially commence” the project.
The legislation will also make it clear that any permits under LUPAA that may be deemed to have lapsed, have not lapsed.
“The Government has shown with its extensive reform agenda that it is prepared to confront issues and deal with them quickly and decisively,” Llewellyn said.
“That is what leadership is about.
“We have built the Tasmanian economy into being the strongest in Australia by being prepared to make the decisions that count.
“The global recession has played a part in delaying progress on the mill and it would make no sense to allow legal uncertainties to jeopardise its chances of success.
“The jobs and the economic momentum that would flow from a project of this size would benefit Tasmania for a long time to come.
“Government is about accepting responsibility and acting on what needs to be done and this is yet another example of us getting on with the job.”