10 conservationist’s today attendant Eden local magistrate’s court. All ten conservationists have been charged with unlawful entry on enclosed lands. Local Eden magistrate David Heilpern convicted five of the ten conservations and also fined them a sum of $150 each. Two conservationists received no conviction but have been ordered to pay court costs of $63. The other three conservationists adjourned there case to a later date
. The charges follow on from the 10th of June when 10 conservationists successfully shut down the South East Fibre Export’s woodchipping compound for over 9 hours. 4 conservationists attached themselves to the conveyor belt which chips old growth and native forests from the South East of New South Wales and from East Gippsland in Victoria. The other 6 were also arrested inside the export woodchipping compound.
“The woodchipping industry is clearly unsustainable and is having devastating impacts on our native forests biodiversity. In 2005 how can such destruction be lawfully justified. We felt that it was necessary to participate in peaceful protest as a means to raise awareness about these issues to the broader community.” said spokesperson for the group, Billy Dain.
“Mitsubishi, one of the largest consumers of wood chips from Australia has banned the use of old growth and native forests. Now its time for the remaining companies to follow suit.” He concluded.
Harriet Swift, a New South Wales conservationist and one of five convicted today stated “We are prepared to face to consequences of our actions and this will not put use off protesting against the export driven woodchipping industry which continues to chip old growth and native forests”.
Five conservationists have been found guilty of unlawful entry at the Eden woodchip mill, in south-east New South Wales, last month.
Ten people were arrested for stopping work at the mill that processes old growth timber from NSW and East Gippsland, in south-east Victoria, for export.
A spokesman for the protesters, Billy Dane from Goongerah, in East Gippsland, says the five people found guilty were each fined $150.
"The ruling today won't stop conservationists from peaceful protesting against the woodchipping industry," he said.
Conservationists have attached themselves to machinery which is used to chip old growth and native forests from East Gippsland Victoria and the South East Forests in New South Wales. These actions fall at the end of World Environment Week and are a sign of the nations concerns with political parties who allow the destruction of old growth and native forests for an export driven wood chipping industry
“In the week the world celebrates world environment day, Steve Bracks has approved the logging of a national rainforest site of significance for woodchips. Then the Eden woodchip mill is sending our national rainforest sites to Japan for as little as 11 cents a tonne in royalties.” Said spokesperson for conservationists, Billy Dain
Conservationists from East Gippsland Victoria and South East of N.S.W affected by the south east woodchip industry have converged on the mill to highlight the continuing senseless and unnecessary destruction of East Gippsland’s and the South East forests for woodchips. This action follows on from Monday, where a large group held there protest at the entrance of the woodchipping mill.
“Tragically, old growth and native forests are being wood chipped and exported to Japan. It is absurd that the wood chipping industry is paying as little as 11 cents a tonne for these magnificent trees” he continued.
“These actions highlight the woodchip industries ongoing destruction of our old growth forests and water catchments. “Steve Bracks and Bob Carr must acknowledge that the problem of old growth forest woodchipping can be solved. Australia has enough existing hardwood plantations to meet its woodchip needs. Both the Bracks and Carr government must intervene to protect old growth forests and water catchments for future generations” he concluded
Conservations plan to stop all work within South East Fibre Export’s compound and are demanding and end to woodchipping out old growth and native forests.
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One of the three, Edward Hill, pleaded guilty to a charge of obstructing traffic. Police claimed that he had maintained a position on a tripod over the road for almost 9 hours, causing dozens of log trucks to wait in line along the Princes Highway.
In making the order that no conviction be recorded, Magistrate Heilpern warned them that their cases would be taken into account if they were to reoffend.
“History would judge whether they were heroes or fools,” he added.
|A tripod blocks the road to the Chipmill at dawn||The lone sitter waits......||A treesit is attached by cable to a road block|
|After many hours a cherry picker arrives......||....and takes the protester down, to be arrested.||The police investigate the treesit cable....|
|No work today....the road is still blocked.||..and the trucks are backing up....||....while the treesitter remains out of reach....|
Cable attached to a treesit blocked the road, as did the conservationist who manned the tripod for 9 hours until a police escort arrived with a cherry picker to dismantle the structure. While many employees from the mill gladly took the chance for a day off, one mill worker gunned his car through scrub at the side of the road, endangering the conservationist attached to cable run across the road and hitting one protester before speeding off. Returning with climbers and technicians from Search & Rescue, police ordered the dismantling of a sound system and declared the area a crime scene warning that anybody crossing their barriers would be arrested.
"These actions highlight the woodchip industry's ongoing destruction of our old growth forests and water catchments. It's time Premier Bracks and Premier Carr were decisive on this issue. The Bracks government must intervene to protect old growth forests and water catchments and water catchments for future generations" said Billy Dain, spokesperson for conservationists on-site.
While the action was a smoothly run and peaceful protest against destruction of unique environments concentrated in the East Gippsland region of Victoria, negotiations broke down rapidly as the crane arrived to remove the tripod's sole occupant. 5 protesters intent on preventing the machine's successful operation and further restricting road access to the mill were tackled to the ground, while a sixth on the verge of successful escape was grabbed only after losing her footing. Another man later displayed severely swollen wrists from handcuffs that he'd repeatedly claimed were too tight. An officer brought in from Northern New South Wales for the day laughingly responded to complaints about excessive force that "it's just kids having a bit of fun".
A total of 9 arrests were made, with close to 30 police from Victoria and New South Wales in attendance. While the mill might normally take delivery from 130 trucks in a day, by 3 pm when the road was reopened only 35 loads had been delivered. These kinds of actions effectively stop loading work form both East Gippsland and the South East Forests for the day.
A ten metre high structure has been assembled across the mill entrance, preventing logging trucks delivering old growth and other high conservation value forest to the mill, which will be chipped and exported to Japan.
Spokesperson Billy Dain said, “In Victoria, the equivalent of 27 MCG sized football fields are cleared every day, with the state Government receiving as little as 11 cents a tonne in royalties from these magnificent trees.”
“On the road block a banner reads "Steve Bracks, Bob Carr, Stop Chipping our Future". Over 120 logging trucks per day deliver old growth and native forests to the export wood-chipping mill,” said Mr Dain.
Another conservationist is perched thirty metres high on a tree platform, blocking the second access road to the mill, which woodchips old growth forests from East Gippsland, Victoria and the South East New South Wales. “Conservationists plan to prevent all old growth and native forests from being delivered to the SE Fibre Exports Compound for the day,” said Mr Dain.
"These actions are a last resort in frustration that the woodchipping industry is out of control while Premier’s Bracks and Carr fail to show leadership on this issue or meet community expectations to protect old growth forests, water catchments and habitat for endangered wildlife. It’s time for both Premiers to act decisively on this issue.”