Media reports September 2010

24 September 2010 Garden guru Peter Cundall has told a Hobart court he joined a protest over the Gunns pulp mill because of the mill's "corrupted" approval process. Cundall, 83, called for a royal commission into the state approval. "What I'm suggesting is the way the legislation was pushed through the House [of Assembly] was corrupted," he said. The former ABC television gardening personality took the stand yesterday in a test case following his arrest with 56 other protesters who refused to leave the steps of the Tasmanian Parliament last November.The case was adjourned until November 2. Farm Online

13 September 2010 Gunns chief executive Greg L'Estrange told the Forest Industry Development Conference in Melbourne on 9 September that the company would move to exclusively plantation timber, a move expected to grease the wheels of its stalled Bell Bay pulp mill project. The company said in its 2009/10 full-year results last month that Bell Bay is still "being held in a ready status", despite saying over a year ago that it had secured a partner for the project. "It has been a project that has been in development for a long period of time. It has been captive to both the native forest debate and our own engagement processes," said L'Estrange. Gunns has already stated that the Bell Bay mill would only use plantation timber, but its use of native forest in other aspects of its business has continued to anger environmental groups. L'Estrange acknowledged that Gunns and the timber industry as a whole "have lost the public debate and support of the broader community". Proprint

10 September 2010 Gunns has sold its Tasmanian winery to industry giant Brown Brothers for $32.5 million. The purchase of Tamar Ridge Winery, which includes established brand Devils Corner, was in part due to global warming, according to Brown Brothers chief executive Ross Brown. Known for producing cool-climate wines, Victorian-based Brown Brothers expects average temperatures to rise 2C at its current vineyards over the next 15 years. Mr Brown told The Weekly Times the purchase was driven by the need for cooler-climate sites. Weekly Times

10 September 2010 Gunns is under fire over its move to secure a 'social licence' for its pulp mill in northern Tasmania. The Forest Industries Association of Tasmania (FIAT) says Gunns new business plan will hurt small operators. ABC

9 September 2010 Forestry Tasmania will expect compensation from Gunns if the round-table negotiations on the future of Tasmania's timber industry result in an end to logging in native forests. FT and Gunns signed two major wood supply agreements in December 2007. The 20-year pulpwood supply agreement covered 1.5 million tonnes of pulpwood a year until 2027. The sawlog and other products supply agreement covered deals in sawlogs until 2017. The amounts are commercial-in-confidence. Gunns has said it wants to make a transition to a plantation-based industry, including the Bell Bay pulp mill. It is expected an agreement between the forestry industry and conservationists would cost 3000 jobs and result in Gunns closing sawmills. Forestry Tasmania managing director Bob Gordon said a talks agreement would likely result in the end of the pulpwood supply deal with Gunns. "Normally when someone walks away from a contract they compensate the person selling, not buying," he said. Mr Gordon said FT was planning for a reduction in available native forest. On Tuesday FT announced an $8 million loss for the year after a collapse in the Japanese woodchip market. Mercury

3 September 2010 Gunns Limited could be paid up to $200 million in compensation under a deal to end native forest logging. Industry analysts have told the Mercury that the compensation would cover the Tasmanian forest giant's sawlog contract with Forestry Tasmania, the cost of roads the company has built in logging areas and the closure of its sawmills. One industry source also said the final compensation package across the industry, including contractors, could total $1 billion. Gunns has said it wants to get out of native forests to concentrate on a plantation-based industry including the $2.2 billion pulp mill. Morningstar Australasia head of equities research Peter Warnes said Gunns' compensation would come from the handing back of a sawlog contract to Forestry Tasmania. It would include compensation for the closure of Gunns' sawmills around the state at Smithton, Western Junction, Launceston and Deloraine. UBS analyst Lachlan Parker said the industry negotiations were a key to the valuation of Gunns shares into the future. "Key to valuation is negotiations with NGOs on the discontinuation of timber harvest in high-value conservation areas the impact on Gunns' earnings could be material, as could industry compensation," he said. "As part of the process of gaining a social licence and moving towards Forest Stewardship Council accreditation, we expect the net outcome could be a material reduction in sawn-timber volumes with industry compensation the quid pro quo." Mercury

2 September 2010 Gunns is set on a new course of trying to heal community conflict with Greg L'Estrange at the helm. But the chief executive said yesterday that would not involve shifting the proposed $2 billion pulp mill from the controversial Tamar Valley site to Hampshire. Mr L'Estrange said that reports showing the potential environmental impact of the venture on the North-West were a key factor in the original decision to choose Bell Bay over Hampshire. 'It showed that you would see the stacks of the Hampshire pulp mill from Cradle Mountain _ we didn't think that would be an appropriate outcome,' he said. Gunns has plans for a community reference group to meet regularly when the pulp mill is up and running. Examiner