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11 December 2009
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts Peter Garrett today used emergency provisions under national environment law to include the Tarkine in the National Heritage List.
The Minister said his decision followed a nomination for emergency listing made last month by the Tarkine National Coalition, as the region may have National Heritage values and because of the potential impacts on those values by the proposed Tarkine road.
"The Tarkine road proposal has also been referred to me under the national environment law and is currently being assessed for its potential impacts on matters of national environmental significance.
"While the region is not currently listed on the National Heritage List, it is the subject of an ongoing assessment by the Australian Heritage Council which is not due to be completed until next year.
"Given that process is already underway, as the region may have National Heritage values, I have therefore accepted the proposal to emergency list the area ensuring that those values have to be formally taken into account in assessing the potential impacts on the road under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
"Including the Tarkine in the National Heritage List does not in itself prevent the road being built and does not amount to a decision on the road. It simply means that potential impacts of the road on the National Heritage values of the area must now also be formally considered alongside other environmental impacts when I decide whether the Tarkine Road proposal requires assessment and approval under national environmental law."
Mr Garrett said the listing acknowledged that the Tarkine may have National Heritage value as Australia's largest tract of cool temperate rainforest; and for its:
"I have listed the boundary nominated by the Tarkine National Coalition. While that area contains several areas where forestry operations are continuing, this decision has no impact on existing use, including on forestry operations and does not impinge on the Regional Forestry Agreement that applies to the region.
"I am confident that the Australian Heritage Council will recommend a final boundary which reflects comprehensively where National Heritage values are located," Mr Garrett said.
As part of the Australian Heritage Council's assessment process, it will call for public comment and advise owners and occupiers of its assessment. The Council will make its recommendation to the Minister by 30 September 2010.
The proposed Tarkine Road was referred to the Minister for consideration under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999.
The department expects to receive further information from the proponent before it makes a decision on whether or not the proposal needs to undergo federal environmental assessment.