No finance, but work to start on Gunns' pulp mill

TASMANIAN timber company Gunns has given the biggest indication yet that it will build its controversial $2.2 billion pulp mill.

Despite not having a joint venture partner or finance, Gunns this morning confirmed that preparatory work will start next month on the Bell Bay site and the associated water pipeline route.

Gunns external relations manager Frances Duffy said people living near the proposed sites of work had been advised of the start-work.

``They should experience little impact at this early stage,'' Ms Duffy said.

Although, Gunns said that people living in the Trevallyn area might need to consider taking alternate walk paths for ``a week or so'' while work on the pipeline took place.

Ms Duffy said the consultation with neighbours had gone well with many people welcoming the news that work was starting.

``People are telling me they are tired of hearing about the pulp mill, they say either do it or don't, do but don't keep talking about it -- so we are just getting on with it,'' Ms Duffy said.

But, it is expected that West Tamar residents opposed to the project will be angry.

Led by anti-mill group TAP into a Better Tasmania, the residents have lobbied the West Tamar Council not to allow Gunns access to an easement on the council-owned land in Trevallyn and Riverside for the pipeline.

The council says its hands are tied, because it has legal advice that the State Government's approval of the Pulp Mill Assessment Act gives Gunns permission to access the land.

The council's land already has an easement on it for Hydro and was valued at about $7000.

Gunns' pipeline will run from Lake Trevallyn, under the Tamar River and will follow an existing pipeline route along the East Tamar Highway to the Bell Bay site.

Gunns will not provide an update on how many landholders it has come to agreement with on the East Tamar for the pipeline.

It has previously said that if all 20-odd landholders don't agree to an acquisition for the pipeline easement, the pulp mill would not be built.

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