A large parcel of native forest will no longer be cleared for cattle grazing after a successful legal challenge by the Tasmanian Conservation Trust, represented by the Environmental Defenders Office.

The Tasmanian Supreme Court today handed down its decision in regard to the TCT’s challenge to the validity of a Forest Practices Plan (FPP) for clearing of 1804 hectares of native forest on private land near Anson Bay, in the state’s north east.

The land is owned by the state MP for Lyons John Tucker. Today, the Honourable Justice Stephen Estcourt decided in favour of the Tasmanian Conservation Trust and found that the FPP is not valid.

“The court has found in favour of the TCT and this means the forests at Ansons Bay have been saved from destruction,” said Peter McGlone, CEO of the Tasmanian Conservation Trust.

“This is a fantastic outcome that has saved 1800 hectares of native forest including habitat for numerous threatened species including the Tasmanian devil, Tiger quoll and New Holland Mouse and 491 hectares of critically endangered Eucalyptus ovata forest.

“This is a great outcome for the TCT, our lawyers at the Environmental Defenders Office, our counsel who represented us in court and our supporters who have financially supported us to take the court case.

“The EDO has worked with the TCT through the seven long years that this case has been before the court. We thank the EDO for their determination and professional services in support of this case, in particular Claire Bookless and Joshua Paveley. We also thank our incredible counsel Lisa De Ferrari QC and Kay Chan.

Claire Bookless – Environmental Defender Office Managing Lawyer – said she was pleased with the decision, which found that the Forest Practices Plan for this landclearing is invalid.

“Destruction of native habitat is a leading driver of extinction and this would have been one of the largest tracts of private land cleared in Tasmania for agriculture for many years.

“Cases like this are brought in the public interest, to defend critical habitat and ensure decision makers follow the rules when deciding on issues of extreme importance such destruction of our natural environment.”

Summary of key facts and issues

The court case relates to a forest practices plan that was refused by the Forest Practices Authority in 2009. The FPA’s refusal was upheld by the Forest Practices Tribunal later in 2009. The landowner wanted to clear the forest and convert it into pasture for cattle. An application for compensation was made by the landowner in 2009 and in 2014 the Minister decided not to provide the compensation. This led to the FPA certifying the plan in early 2015. The TCT undertook the case in March 2015. The TCT argued that the plan was not properly certified due to a number of legal errors made by the Forest Practices Authority in 2015. TCT’s application was seeking the Supreme Court declare the FPP invalid, arguing it was issued in error, in 2015.

TCT’s case before the Supreme Court is against two primary respondents – the Forest Practices Authority, and the current landowner, Mr John Ewart Tucker MP, the Liberal Member for Lyons. The original FPP application and compensation application were made by the current owner’s father who died in 2017.

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