By Kath Gannaway
The two-day court case to test whether logging in Central Highlands is exempt from a national law aimed at protecting threatened species is underway in the Federal Court in Melbourne this morning, Thursday 14 December.
Friends of Leadbeater’s Possum have brought the case against VicForests with the key issue to be heard by Justice Mortimer on whether logging operations carried out under the existing Regional Forestry Agreement (RFA) are exempt from the Environment Protection Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act).
Lawyers for Friends of Leadbeater’s Possum will argue that VicForests’ logging operations are not exempt because they are not conducted in accordance with the RFA on which the exemption is based.
Both the State of Victoria and the Commonwealth of Australia will also present to the court with lawyers for Friends of Leadbeater’s Possum saying the outcome could have implications for the legal footing of native forest logging in other states.
VicForests will be defending their operations saying they believe their operations are in accordance with the Central Highlands Regional Forest Agreement.
“We look for the forward to the court clarifying our obligations in these hearings,” a spokesperson said.
“We are keen to see the legal matter resolved as quickly as possible to minimise disruption of timber supply to local mills and to important regional jobs.”
The hearing, which continues on Friday 15 December, is being held at the Federal Court of Australia, corner La Trobe and William Streets, Melbourne.