Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke has allowed proposals to protect the Tarkine wilderness area in Tasmania to drop.
Today the Tasmanian Government backed the decision made by Burke, outraging environmentalist groups, who say the lapse of emergency heritage listing for the Tarkine region in north-west Tasmania in December allowed three mining companies to begin exploration and drilling work.
Tasmanian Environment Minister Brian Whitman yesterday announced his support for Burke’s decision, saying it was “prudent.”
The temporary listing was allowed to lapse by Burke, following a decision to axe a project to protect the endangered Tasmanian devil, in favour of a tourist road.
Tasmania’s Mercury report Burke received a report from the Australian Heritage Council prior to his decision, which stated 434 000 hectares in the state’s north-west corner met the criteria for permanent heritage listing and protection.
Wightman told Tasmanian Parliament any potential negative economic impacts of protecting the Tarking wilderness should be considered.
He said mining and forestry activities could be halted or restricted if the Tarkine’s forests, coastal headlands and buttongrass alpine plains were declared a new World Heritage Area.
Wightman said more consultation was necessary, despite the protection of the Tarkine area being mooted since 2004.
Shree Minerals wants to develop twin iron magnetite and hematite deposits in the area, Beacon Hill resources is looking for magnesite in the area’s limestone karst country and Venture Minerals is exploring for tin, tungsten and magnetite deposits.
Burke has been accused of deliberately allowing the emergency heritage listing to collapse by Australian Greens deputy leader and Tasmanian senator Christine Milne, who said the minister would have known mining applications were queued up.
Tarkine National Coalition spokesman Scott Jordon said the decision by Burke to delay the decision on the protection was a tactic to allow mining proposals in the area to go ahead.
Image: Tasmania Adventures