Greens politicians and local environmentalists took to the air for a fly-over of logging compartments and the Eden chipmill on Saturday to gather information as part of their campaign to see the mill close.
As South East Fibre Exports prepares to load 50,000 tonnes of chips onto a ship due on Friday, Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon said the party’s plan to transition forestry industry employees would be announced in coming months.
She said this could include a wind farm or some sort of renewable energy hub on the chipmill site, even though the NSW government was “waging a war on wind” and SEFE’s own moves to install seven turbines was rejected by teh community last year. She said keeping skilled people in the south east was a priority.
“We need to provide jobs for those who are impacted and lock in protection for those forests,” Senator Rhiannon said.
However she realised some families would be forced to move away to find work.
“The information we are getting, and we are checking on that, is that drivers are getting work quite easily,” she said.
South East Fibre Exports general manager Peter Mitchell questioned the worth of the flyover, paid for from Senator Rhiannon’s Electoral Charter Allowance.
“I’ve been told they flew without any technical expertise as to what they were looking at, as to the age of the logging and the history of the forest,” Mr Mitchell said.
While the Greens say more research will be done on images taken during the flight, they also await the release of information about the mill’s supply contracts under Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009, an application headed by Harriet Swift. SEFE has objected to the release of information saying it is commercially sensitive.