Tense stand-off at Ta Ann

Written By miftah nugraha on Jumat, 12 Juli 2013 | 19.55

TENSIONS are high at an anti-logging protest that has shut down production at Ta Ann's timber processing plant at Smithton.

About 40 protesters – including several activists believed to be from interstate -- converged on the North-West Tasmanian site this morning, with two shackling themselves to machinery inside the mill.

Five Tasmania Police officers are outside the mill and it is understood several more are inside attempting to negotiate with protesters.

A crowd of forest industry supporters has also gathered to show their anger over the protest.

Still Wild Still Threatened spokeswoman Miranda Gibson said the action was designed to highlight concerns about "the appalling acceptance of this company in Tasmania".

But other major environment groups in Tasmania have come out against the protesters.

Signatories to the Tasmanian Forests Agreement -- including Environment Tasmania, the Wilderness Society and the Australian Conservation Foundation – issued a group statement condemning the action.

They said it was "uncalled for, unnecessary and working counter to the creation of new reserves in Tasmania".

"Ta Ann Tasmania supported the World Heritage listing of Tasmania's tall wet forests, the reservation of over 500,000ha of forests and, for the longer term, has committed to source its wood supply outside of the Tasmanian Forests Agreement reserve areas," the groups said in a statement.

"With broad support for the conservation and industry outcomes of the lengthy negotiations, now is not the time for this sort of action."

Circular Head Mayor Daryl Quilliam said the action was also potentially dangerous.

"Taking direct action by taking over a legal workplace is not only unnecessary, it is also potentially dangerous for all parties involved," Cr Quilliam said.

"Ta Ann is legally operating in Tasmania and should be able to undertake its operations without the threat of such acts."

But the protesters remain undeterred.

"Tasmania's outstanding native forests and their threatened species remain at risk of continued industrial scale destruction, despite the passage of new forest legislation in the Tasmanian Parliament," Ms Gibson said.

"This legislation has not declared new reserves, and it has allowed ongoing logging of proposed reserves."

Comment has also been sought from Ta Ann.

Read more in tomorrow's Mercury ...

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