10 August, 2011

Meacher vows further protests

Lilydale & Yarra Valley Leader, 10 August 2011

A PROMINENT Healesville environmentalist has vowed not to let criminal charges deter him from fighting logging in Toolangi.

Steve Meacher, who ran as the Greens’ candidate in McEwen at the 2010 federal election, was one of three protesters arrested early last week for entering a logging exclusion zone at Sylvia Creek.

He told the Leader he plans on contesting the charge of entering a designated public safety zone.

“We believe it’s the logging that is illegal,” Mr Meacher said.

“This is not going to deter me in the least. Only stopping logging will deter me.

“And it’s not just me and a couple of radical greenies in this fight. Toolangi residents are incensed at what’s happening on their doorstep.”

A series of public meetings has been held, attracting an estimated 100 people, with another meeting planned for Thursday, August 11, at the CJ Dennis Hall.

The Department of Sustainability and Environment confirmed two people were charged on Monday, August 1, as 13 were escorted from the public safety zone. Three protesters were arrested.

A tree sitter was removed later that day from a 40m perch. However, days later a second person climbed a tree to again impede logging efforts.

VicForests spokesman David Walsh said protesters who illegally entered the public safety zone had endangered themselves as well as contract staff working in the area.

“It is important to note that these are legal harvesting operations which comply with the detailed legislative framework governing native timber harvesting in Victoria,” he said.

“No forest which meets the criteria for Leadbeater’s possum habitat and no old growth forest were ever planned for harvest as part of these operations.”

Ironically, former Liberal candidate for the seat of McEwen, police officer Cameron Caine, was at the scene as Mr Meacher was arrested and charged last week.

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