Environment groups back Ta Ann deal

ENVIRONMENT groups have confirmed that they would support timber company Ta Ann even if the historic forest peace deal is torn up under a Liberal government.

Labor, which had previously said the forest peace deal was crucial to the timber company remaining in the state, is set to announce its forest policy at the Ta Ann mill at Smithton today.

It was revealed yesterday that a "market compact" had been signed by Ta Ann and environment groups to pledge that timber would not be sourced from areas protected under the peace deal if the groups supported the company.

The agreement was a by-product of the peace deal, and could mean the deal is no longer necessary to keep Ta Ann in the state, which had previously indicated it would leave if the deal was not passed.

Wilderness Society spokesman Vica Bayley said the assurance from the timber company that it would not source timber from contentious areas sent a signal to the Liberals that they were on the wrong track with forestry.

On Tuesday Liberal leader Will Hodgman reaffirmed his commitment to tear up the peace deal.

Mr Bayley said the Liberals were "on a loser" with the plan to tear up the deal.

"They risk taking the industry backwards," he said.

Late last year Prime Minister Tony Abbott wrote to Mr Hodgman to confirm that he had begun to unwind the agreement by requesting that additional World Heritage Area added under the deal be delisted.

Mr Hodgman said the deal turned forestry into a "cottage industry".

"Our plan is to reopen those productive forests," he said.

It is unclear which markets would source timber from the forests that would be unlocked by the Liberals, and Mr Hodgman would not say how the party would open up more forests.

Mr Bayley said there were no "major players" interested in timber from existing protected areas.

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