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EPA Board considers proposal to expand Artec Woodchip Mill

The Board of the Environment Protection Authority has concluded its assessment of a proposed expansion of an existing woodchip mill on Mobil Road at Bell Bay in the state’s north east.

The site is in an area zoned for heavy industrial purposes under the George Town Planning Scheme 1991.The site has been used for wood processing and storage since about 1974 and as a woodchip mill since 2001.

Under the proposal, the Artec woodchip mill would have the capacity to increase production at their existing Bell Bay site and a second static wood-chipper would be installed. Artec has had environmental approval to operate their mill at that site since 2001.

The Chair of the EPA Board John Ramsay says the Board has decided the proposed expansion of the operations could be developed and managed in an environmentally sustainable and acceptable manner, provided certain conditions are met.

"The proposed expansion would increase the site’s allowable maximum production from 400,000 to 600,000 tonnes per year," Mr. Ramsay said.

Ten representations were received in relation to the permit application, which was submitted in 2011.

Mr Ramsay said the EPA gave consideration to various environmental issues, particularly noise and water quality.

"Most of the public representations were concerned about the potential noise impact on residents in Beauty Point and other locations on the western side of the Tamar River," Mr. Ramsay said.

"The Board has recommended site specific permit conditions to restrict the operating hours of a new static wood-chipper until such time as it can be clearly demonstrated that the expanded activity will not breach the noise limit for the site."

"Hours for construction work will be limited also, to 8 am – 4.30 pm Monday-Saturday," Mr. Ramsay said.

The proposal was considered by the Board in the context of the sustainable development objectives of the Resource Management and Planning System of Tasmania (RMPS), and in the context of the objectives of the Environmental Management and Pollution Control System (EMPCS) established by the EMPC Act.

The Board undertook the assessment of the proposal in accordance with the Environmental Impact Assessment Principles defined in Section 74 of the EMPC Act.

The Board members who made the decision were John Ramsay (Chair), Ian Abernethy (Deputy Chair), Louise Cherrie, Helen Locher, Alex Schaap (Director of the EPA) Members.

The EPA Board’s environmental assessment, including the environmental conditions that must be included in any permit, have been forwarded to George Town Council. The Council will review planning issues before deciding whether a permit is to be granted.

The detailed assessment report on the proposal, the environmental conditions and the decision by the EPA Board is available on the Assessment page.