To W Jones, EPA, re Gunns Limited— Approval of the Draft Pulp Mill Design.

To: Environmental Protection Authority Tasmania
Mr. Warren Jones
Director of the EPA.

4th September 2009.

RE: Gunns Limited— Approval of the Draft Pulp Mill Design.

Dear Mr. Jones.

I write to you as I understand that this document has been submitted for your consideration and approval.

I wish to draw your attention to Appendix 3 of the Equator Principles (EP) document. I strongly suggest that you do not approve the Pulp Mill Design document as the statements contained in Appendix 3; the basis of the whole design is plainly erroneous.

Further to this:-
Gunns Limited nor Poyry Forest Industry Ltd Pty are not signatories to the Equator Principles and therefore can not undertake an actual assessment under EP guidelines. In addition, the majority of the assessments under the Equator Principles are to be undertaken by “the Government, the borrower, or a third party not associated with the borrower - proponent”. I have confirmed these points with the Secretariat of the Equator Principle organisation.


The Tasmanian Government purposely restricted the scope of the project assessment guidelines by specifically excluding any risk assessment of the long term effects that this Proposed Pulp Mill project will have on the wider social, environmental and community aspects of the proposal. The Tasmanian Governments own project guidelines do not address the scope of the 10 Equator Principles, and therefore the Project will not gain Equator Principle acceptance.

The following key points cover the critical statements that are incorrect and misleading. Points that Gunns Limited and Poyry Forest Industry Pty Ltd. have based their design upon. (The words in italics are the Equator Principles, my comments follow.).

Principle 2.  

The proponent is required to conduct a social and environmental assessment. This assessment will address the relevant social and environmental risks of the proposed project and include mitigation and management measures relevant and appropriate to the scale of the proposed project.

Gunns Limited has restricted their assessments to only the pulp mill site, the Trevallyn pump site and the pipeline corridors. The Tasmanian government restricted Gunns Limited assessment requirements to only these narrow areas. However to gain Equator Principle recognition ALL social and environmental concerns have to be assessed including the effects, adverse or positive to the loss of farmland, use of chemicals, traffic capacity, forestry management, resource management, health, water utilization, social and business concerns in the larger regional area.

Gunns Limited have provided a “benefits only” report on aspects of the Proposed Pulp Mill and again only for the Proposed Mill site, Trevallyn pumping site and pipeline corridors, not the larger regional area, and without taking into account community and small businesses concerns.

Gunns Limited has failed to address the issue of fugitive odors and there has been no assessment of this potential problem in a well documented enclosed airshed or any discussion of mitigation at all. It is clear that world wide, all Pulp Mills regularly pollute the environment with odorous emissions at nuisance levels. The very overseas pulp mills that Gunns Limited point to in their IIS and their media statements emit considerable odor, and at nuisance levels.

There has been no publicly available assessment at all of the likely pollution of Tasmanian waters from the effluent. The Federal Government only assesses Commonwealth waters. Yet Tasmania has a thriving Bass Strait fishing industry employing hundreds of workers and has exports worth hundreds of millions. Three separate surveys have shown this area of water flushes only 1% a day and the recent CSIRO report says that the Tasmanian permits will be breached on a daily basis. The 270 local producers who have differentiated products based on Tasmania's clean and green resources and the small tourist related businesses that all could be adversely affected by this proposed pulp mill have not been considered.

The Tasmanian Government restricted Gunns Limited and subsequently the Commonwealth Minister for the Environment from assessing the adverse effects on the environment, bio-diversity, flora and fauna, threatened and endangered species; on the 290,000 hectares of Tasmanian native forests, private forests and plantations used to provide feed stock to the proposed Pulp Mill, or until plantation only wood stock is available for pulp mill feed stock or for export wood chips.

Principle 3

The assessment will establish the project’s overall compliance with, or justified deviation from, the respective IFC performance standards and environment health safety guidelines.

The wood supply is not FSC certified and, as such, uses chemicals in plantations that are banned, not certified or severely restricted in other parts of the World. Tests have shown Tasmanian waterways and ground water to be polluted by these cancer-causing chemicals from time to time. Tasmania has a very high cancer rate compared with the rest of Australia. This proposed project will vastly increase the use of these chemicals for more than 30 years. This important aspect is not addressed in their assessment.   
Principle 5.
The Government, borrower or third party has consulted with project affected communities in a structured and culturally appropriate way.

Gunns Limited has not held even one public meeting with residents about the project. Public “consultation” has been limited to Gunns Limited or the Government telling the public what is going to happen. There has been NO risk assessment to accepted Treasury standards for any aspect of the project at all. Public unease about a project in a valley that was previously considered unsuitable for a pulp mill has just been dismissed. A 20,000 signature petition to Parliament was binned without consideration. Many thousands of letters to the Government, several Rallies’ of up to 15,000 concerned members of the public have resulted in no change and no consultation.     

Apart from a farcical meeting with tourist operators, small business owners and producers in the community have never had a public meeting with the Government or Gunns Limited to discuss this proposal.
In the Gunns Limited—Poyry Forest Industry Pty Ltd Appendix 3 - Equator Principle assessment they state the following points.

“The initial RPDC assessment process required considerable public consultation”
However, there is little or no evidence that the 780 public submissions were taken into account.


“Whilst this assessment process (sic RPDC) was terminated in March 2007”
Terminated—Gunns Limited withdrew from the RPDC process, as the IIS again was found to be critically deficient, incomplete and contained errors.


“Gunns Limited or the Government have undertaken a very comprehensive public consultation program” No they have not. Gunns Limited has held invitation-only meetings, meetings with service clubs, suppliers meetings. The Government has only held Task Force meetings, where we were told what was going to happen and even basic questions were not answered. Excluded from the “very comprehensive public consultation program” were nearly all of the 100 000 residents who live in the Tamar Valley. Issues of importance to residents such as the impact on their health, property values, lifestyle and businesses have been ignored and continue to be ignored.

Principle 8   
Grievance mechanisms: To ensure that consultation, disclosure and community engagement continues throughout the construction and operation of the project, the borrower will, scaled to the risks and adverse impacts of the project, establish a grievance mechanism as part of the management system.   

The Pulp Mill Assessment Act, Clause 11, prevents individuals, groups getting any further information or seeking legal redress from the Government or the Proponent. This has been tested in court and found to be so. I personally lodged a complaint with Gunns Limited; concerning work being undertaken without Working Permit conditions being approved and they refused to register or consider the complaint. In refusing to accept a formal grievance, Gunns have demonstrated a failure of corporate responsibility and acceptance of the Equator Principles.

Principle 9
Independent review:  An independent social or environmental expert not directly associated with the borrower will review the assessment. Action plan and consultation process documentation in order to assess the due diligence, and assess compliance with the Equator Principles.
The Tasmanian RPDC was required to carry out these functions but Gunns withdrew from the process after they were advised that their second attempt at an IIS was deemed critically non-compliant by the RPDC. The Government then fast-tracked the Pulp Mill Approval Act and guillotined it through Parliament without allowing proper discussion.

The Government’s consultant Sweco Pic was required to assess the pulp mill project for compliance against the guidelines before the Act passed into law. However, Sweco admitted (p.12) that they did not assess social and economic effects, nor the impacts of pipelines, quarries, noise and construction, nor the impacts on flora and fauna, waterways and transport.
The resultant “independent” Sweco-Pic assessment used the original guidelines that assumed a remote location rather than the RPDC guidelines for the Tamar valley site. It also assumed that everything the IIS said was true! The social assessment used information that was year’s out of date and ignored the latest survey that showed that the Tamar valley was a vibrant area with little unemployment.
Sweco’s failure to fully assess compliance means that the pulp mill permits are invalid and open to legal challenge according to detailed analysis by legal expert, Michael Stokes.

Before approval, the Pulp Mill Design document must be corrected, soundly based on the Equator Principles and the assessment undertaken appropriately as defined by the Equator Principles.

 I would appreciate a clear indication of how you intend treating this document.

Thank you for your consideration.

Yours Faithfully. 

John Day.

CC – Mr. M. Aird.  Minister for Economic Development.