Battle for Ludlow heats up

by Tracy Williams

Wednesday, 14 July 2004

THE fight to save the Ludlow tuart forest is gathering steam after developments last week threatened to make it an election issue.

Politicians from both sides expressed views on the forest protest and the plan to mine at Ludlow.

Shadow environment minister Brendon Grylls called on the Government to remove the protesters.

Mr Grylls said protesters were trespassing illegally and should face fines of up to $500 if they refused to leave.

He said protesters were camped with inadequate sanitation and in tree platforms that had the potential to cause damage to the tuart canopies.

"If it's good enough for the mining proponents to face strict conditions and stiff penalties for non-compliance, why have the protesters been allowed to invade the tuart precinct without some sort of control on their activity?" he asked.

"While I support the right to protest as an important part of our democracy, the minister should ensure that the laws are enforced at all times."

Forest protester and camp spokesperson Ritchie Davis, 32, a timber mill worker from Walpole, is on annual leave to help with the protest.

He said Mr Grylls' claims were unfounded and the minister should visit the site before he passed judgement.

"We have been using chemical toilets similar to the ones used in caravan parks and camping grounds," he said.

They were replaced at the weekend with a compost toilet that was offered to the group by the Sustainable Technology Institute at Murdoch University.

"The trees we have camped in have been inspected by a tree lopper and aren't being damaged," Mr Davis said.

"The structural points are padded with carpet.

"CALM is satisfied with how we run the camp and visit every second day."

The group has received legal advice from the Environmental Defender's Office and runs workshops to inform protesters of their legal rights.

"We are not just here camping," Mr Davis said.

"If the minister said that the mining wasn't going ahead, we'd all leave here tomorrow."

Busselton's Martin Pritchard said that while Friends of the Tuart Forest did not set up the tree village, they strongly opposed any mining in the area.

"The Gallop government was voted in on a platform of saving old growth forest and they could well be voted out because of the platforms in the old growth tuarts," he said.


Informant: Deane T. Rimerman


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