Environmental extremists attack family-owned businesses
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The recent decision of the Andrews government to cease all native timber harvesting within the state has resulted in ever greater pressure to Victorian firewood supplies – with the firewood market reeling from a VicForests shutdown induced 42,000 cubic metre shortfall.
While the combination of consistent green lawfare by fringe environmental groups and the continued apathy of the Victorian Labor government has seen devastation to industry on a scale never seen before – the goal posts have recently shifted – with mum and dad firewood businesses now in the target of Victorian Extremist environmental groups.
Mum and Dad firewood cutters Kate and Dale Tiley have become the latest victims of an environmental group’s green lawfare – and have been told to seek urgent legal advice, as the Wombat Forestcare Group launches court action to stop them and four other commercial firewood cutters operating in the forest to provide a necessary community firewood resource (largely from storm event salvage timber).
Throughout Australia – particularly throughout rural and regional areas, firewood has been a mainstay for heating and cooking for generations. In remote areas and rural towns – particularly in low socio-economic situations firewood is often the sole source of heating, with the expensive supply and install of other options not viable for those already struggling with the cost of living.
Disappointingly Supreme Court Justice Melinda Richards – whose ruling last year led the Andrews Government to bring forward the 2030 phase out of native forest harvesting to 2024 – has now issued the Wombat Forestcare Group with an order permitting it to join the Tileys’ family firewood business to legal proceedings brought against VicForests.
Mr Tiley said he expected to be served with court papers shortly, to appear before Justice Richards very soon after, giving him very little time to employ and brief a lawyer.
“It’ll be the end of me if I can’t get the wood cut up and dried (this summer) – I’ll have to put a bloke off straight away.” Mr Tiley said.
Wombat Forestcare convener Gayle Osborne has previously stated that legal action was being taken because VicForests had failed to adequately survey the site for threatened species.
Mr Tiley said they only had a quota of 4000 tonnes, which would hardly make a dent in the massive fuel load of twisted logs and debris that still lay across the forest after storms hit the area in June 2021. Recent analysis shows at least 600,000 tonnes of fallen trees are spread across 2500ha of the Wombat Forest floor, at densities ranging from 200 to 240 tonnes per hectare, posing a major fire risk to nearby towns and farmers.
Forest and Wood Communities Australia Executive Officer Mick Harrington says the lack of concern for family-owned businesses with limited resources is unsurprising. “It is clear to me that the decision to pursue family-owned firewood businesses is completely out of touch with everyday Victorians – the Wiley family is simply using a storm induced available resource to supply much needed affordable firewood resource to local communities – and deliver a reduction to fire risk for local farmers and residents.”
One thing is clear – the march of militant environmental groups never stops – with Victorian family-owned businesses and community safety now firmly under attack.