WRAP media release - 19 July 2021
Inside information leads to environmental damage on prison site
WRAP members urgently gathered at the Westbury reserve Sunday morning in response to a concerned resident's call to advise that people were on site felling trees.
"We met up with Aaron Reader, of CROWPS (Concerned Residents Opposed to the Westbury Prison Site) who had also been asked to urgently attend. By the time I arrived, the wood-hookers had just left but the police were in attendance and said that they would pay them a visit," said Linda Poulton.
I saw that one tree had been felled within the proposed prison site. The wood-hookers had stated that they had been told to follow the pink painted dots to guide them to the proposed prison site, and to fell trees there as opposed to anywhere else in the reserve.
When questioned, they said that they had been issued a permit and told where to go by "'Reevesy' who is high up in Forestry". No evidence of the permits had been produced.
"In the last sitting of Parliament, the Premier himself acknowledged the sensitive natural values of the reserve. More recently, the government conceded the prison proposal would need to be referred to Sussan Ley MP under the EPBC Act.
So the fact that illegal wood-hooking can occur on the reserve today, in this context, shows that the appalling mismanagement and neglect of this reserve.
Even worse, though, is the fact that someone with inside knowledge has directed these people to fell trees on the prison site itself, which is well known as critical habitat for threatened species. This adds a layer of premeditated malice to the whole exercise.
There were plenty of far more accessible places for opportunistic wood-hooking. It took additional effort to access the proposed prison site, and in fact one of the vehicles could not even make it up the hill.
These people were directed to remove trees from this part of the reserve by someone with inside knowledge, and Minister Barnett needs to conduct a thorough investigation together with Tasmania Police as to how this has occurred.
In the meantime, we urge the government to comply with its obligations to the Federal government and protect the reserve from further illegal activities which threaten its acknowledged natural values including by preventing unlawful vehicular access, so that this cannot happen again.
Spokesperson, WRAP Inc