THE Environment Minister, Peter Garrett, has been accused of granting favours to forestry company Gunns over its controversial pulp mill project in northern Tasmania.
Mr Garrett yesterday granted Gunns an extension until January next year to complete the environmental impact management plan for the mill.
“It is not unusual for major projects to need additional time to ensure that all environmental matters are fully investigated and properly addressed,” he said.
“The comprehensive assessment of every aspect of the Gunns EIMP by both my department and the Independent Experts Group must not be rushed.”
Gunns welcomed the decision. “Approval of the EIMP modules is a complex and time-consuming process,” Gunns’ resource manager Calton Frame said.
Ed Cooper, from activist group GetUp!, accused Mr Garrett of “granting further favours to Gunns”.
The Opposition said Mr Garrett was “doing his best to indicate” the approvals process “has nothing to do with him”.
Environment spokesman Greg Hunt said: “Every time he is quizzed about the planned mill, he hides behind the work carried out by his department, the Independent Experts Group and the former government.”
The extension was slammed by the Greens.
“It was a condition of Malcolm Turnbull’s approval that Gunns would have 12 months to finalise their approvals process,” Senator Christine Milne said.
“Gunns knew that, and they failed to meet that deadline.”
Source The Australian