Gunns boss talks pulp mill and a gentler forest giant

TASMANIA'S often-troubled timber giant Gunns is set on a new course of trying to heal community conflict with Greg L'Estrange at the helm.

But the chief executive said yesterday that would not involve shifting the proposed $2 billion pulp mill from the controversial Tamar Valley site to Hampshire.

Mr L'Estrange said that reports showing the potential environmental impact of the venture on the North-West were a key factor in the original decision to choose Bell Bay over Hampshire.

"It showed that you would see the stacks of the Hampshire pulp mill from Cradle Mountain _ we didn't think that would be an appropriate outcome,'' he said.

Gunns has plans for a community reference group to meet regularly when the pulp mill is up and running.

The company has sold its chain of hardware stores and Victorian-based Brown Brothers bought its Tamar Ridge winery business.

Its walnut farms, on the East Coast are the last major asset to be sold before the company is back to its core operation as a plantation forest grower feeding a world-class pulp mill, Mr L`Estrange said.

He said former managing director John Gay's legacy was his belief in the creation of a plantation-based pulp mill as a basis for the future.

"Certainly, that's what is the company's major asset and that's what we have to ensure is maintained and built on,'' he said.

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