Gunns chief silent at meeting

GUNNS Ltd chief Greg L'Estrange was part of an audience of more than 500 at a Launceston no pulp mill meeting last night.

The managing director of the timber company that proposes building a $2.3 billion pulp mill at Bell Bay sat quietly through the two-hour public meeting as five guest speakers gave their reasons why the mill should not be built.

He stayed at the packed Riverside Tailrace Centre meeting room beside Gunns' pulp mill spokesman Calton Frame and new Bell Bay pulp mill director Timo Piilonen as Launceston City Council Alderman Jeremy Ball and long-time pulp mill opponent Peter Cundall were given standing ovations.

He also listened as Tamar Valley resident and conservation lawyer Vanessa Bleyer outlined the legal tactics still available to fight the project.

Former Tasmanian Resource Planning and Development Commission panellist Warwick Raverty talked of the challenges of building an odour-free pulp mill and underwater photographer Jon Bryan presented a series of slides of Bass Strait marine life near the entrance to the Tamar River.

Alderman Ball said before the meeting that he was surprised at the size of the crowd.

"People say that the fire has gone out of the community against this mill but I don't think so," he said.

Although the Gunns representatives did not speak at the meeting, they mingled among the crowd afterwards and answered questions.

Mr L'Estrange said that he had stayed silent because it was "their meeting".

"I think that we had to take tonight's information on," he said.

"This is a sector of the community. They have a voice. We are listening to their voice."

Mr L'Estrange said that he had attended the meeting because it was important for Gunns to be part of the debate about the pulp mill.

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