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‘Vexatious’ court claims put Victoria at fire risk

A timber coupe being used by TAFE Gippsland for training Victorian essential service personnel has been targeted by ‘vexatious’ court claims resulting in its closure. Source: Timberbiz

Tiger coupe, located near Nowa Nowa in the Colquhoun State Forest in East Gippsland is a critical training facility allocated to TAFE Gippsland by VicForests to train staff at the Department of Environment Land Water and Planning, State Emergency Services, the Country Fire Authority, Victoria Police and harvesting and haulage contractors.

Shadow Assistant Minister for Forestry, Gary Blackwood, said claims that site mismanagement was occurring and subsequent threats to species were unfounded.

Mr Blackwood said the resulting injunction issued by the Supreme Court following a preliminary proceeding would put at risk training and preparedness for the coming fire season which has already been slowed by the effects of the COVID19 pandemic and statewide lockdowns.

“Tiger coupe is a critical part of our emergency services preparedness for the coming fire season and vexatious legal claims against sites like this demonstrate just how far environmental groups will go to shut down our legal timber industry and their associated services,” Mr Blackwood said.

“This coupe is used to train our frontline emergency services personnel and it’s closure is a blow for both emergency responders and industry workers alike.

“VicForests through its mandated survey and environmental impact studies has ensured this site is fit for purpose and any suggestion otherwise is simply designed to disrupt the industry and our preparedness as much as possible.

“The Victorian Labor Government have fostered the ability of environmental groups to use the Victorian Court system as a tool against legal forestry operations and this is just another example of how they have failed to protect the industry.

“It’s time the Victorian Labor Government fixed this broken system and ensured training coupes such as this which meet the highest requirements for conservation management are maintained and protected from such vexatious legal action,” Mr Blackwood said.