A new coupe in the headwaters of the Goongerah creek, domestic water supply for the town of Goongerah, is being logged (October 2007).
A GROUP of protesters plan to use as a defence to a criminal charge a campaign promise not to log an old-growth forest that they claim was broken by former premier Steve Bracks.
A Melbourne court yesterday gave the three defendants until tomorrow to provide evidence that Mr Bracks reneged on the "promise" made during the 2006 State election campaign.
Defence lawyer Vanessa Bleyer told the Melbourne Magistrates Court her clients did not deny that they obstructed authorities in the East Errinundra Forest on November 27, 2006.
Ms Bleyer said they were present because Mr Bracks had promised two days earlier that he would not allow the area to be logged.
But she said that after the election, "logging proceeded in the area he promised to protect", an area her clients claim was also a habitat for the endangered sooty owl.
Prosecutor Nicola Collingwood said she had no knowledge of Mr Bracks' alleged promise and that she understood only "some defendants heard an owl overnight".
Ms Bleyer told judicial registrar Graeme Horsburgh that if the clients produced evidence in court of Mr Bracks' promise by 10am tomorrow, they would defend a charge that they had no "reasonable excuse" to hinder or obstruct an authorised officer.
Two other defendants, Rebecca Spies, 23, and Mark Tyler, 21, both formerly of NSW, pleaded guilty to unauthorised activity in a public safety zone and to refusing to leave the East Errinundra Forest Block when directed.
In her summary, Ms Collingwood said the pair entered the block with others on January 20, 2006, to stop logging, but refused to leave when directed to do so by a forest ranger.
Ms Collingwood said authorities were forced to divert resources, including VicForest and police officers, to deal with the protesters.
Spies and Tyler, postgraduate students now studying in Melbourne, were devout environmentalists, Ms Bleyer said.
Mr Horsburgh told the pair that commitment to the environment was to be admired, but breaking the law would not be tolerated.
Both were placed on 12-month non-conviction undertakings to be of good behaviour, with Tyler ordered to pay $55 costs.
The coupe known as "DMC" in the headwaters of the Goongerah Creek is still being logged despite being in the area earmarked for protection in the new National Park. It lies in the area between the Snowy River and Errinundra National Parks and has been the site of community protest action for a number of years.
Since the Bracks government made their announcement promising to protect the area, the logging has continued at an alarming rate. There is a new log landing at the end of a new road and the coupe extends over two hillsides, adjacent to a rainforest gully.
The GPS co-ordinates for the edge of the coupe is 0651744 5879110
Click here for past actions and information in the Goongerah block