The proponent says the facility is about making forestry in the south sustainable. (ABC News: Emilie Gramenz)
A controversial woodchip mill and export facility proposed for Dover in southern Tasmania has secured the State Government approval it needs to go ahead.
The Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment has granted Southwood Fibre Crown consent for the proposed $42 million woodchip export facility.
It means the development application, which was lodged with Huon Valley Council in November, can be assessed by the council and the Environment Protection Authority before public consultation.
The project has created division in the community with some saying it will create much-needed jobs in the area and others fearing it will open up the area to logging.
James Neville-Smith from Southwood Fibre said the coastal woodchip mill and export facility would create more than 200 jobs.
“Our project alone will create around 170 directly and indirectly with forest contractors etcetera but that doesn’t include the multiplying effects in the community,” he said.
Greens environment spokeswoman Rosalie Woodruff said the State Government had effectively given the project a green light.
“Eight-hundred-thousand tonnes a year of woodchip and whole logs is a complete change to the beauty and tranquillity and the nature tourism businesses that have established in Dover,” she said.
“It will turn it into an industrial port.”
Huon Valley Council has been run by a single administrator since the council was sacked in 2016.
Ms Woodruff called on the State Government to delay the landholder’s consent until after the October local government elections.
“It’s a completely huge change to the future of the Huon Valley, and a decision will made by a single administrator without any elected councillors to represent residents,” she said.
Vica Bayley from the Wilderness Society said he was concerned the facility would open up the area to woodchipping and logging.
“We are deeply concerned that what is being put on the record at the moment actually doesn’t represent the intent of the proponent, or indeed the likely direction of where this facility will go,” he said.
The proponent claims that the Southwood Fibres proposal is key to forestry’s survival in the south. (Supplied: Southwood Fibres)
‘There’ll be no port at the site’
The proposal includes a conveyer belt to the waterfront to load woodchips and logs onto ships.
Mr Neville-Smith said he had no plans to build a port at the site.
“Well, I can rule out 100 per cent. I have never spoken to anyone about it,” he said.
“If we are successful, it’s a long-term lease for the forest owners in the south of the state to facilitate further value adding of their estate — they can get their residues off the island without their money.”
“It’s about putting the whole industry on a sustainable footing, nothing else.”
Mr Neville-Smith said the project would create about 200 jobs plus indirect jobs in the community.
“Despite the allegations that we have been secretive, we have put everything we can on the website,” he said.