Under the Pulp Mill Assessment Act 2007 Gunns had a requirement to demonstrate substantial commencement of the project by 30 August 2011 and provided the EPA with a detailed submission earlier this month outlining the nature and scope of activity on the project to date.
The EPA Director Alex Schaap today outlined his view that the project has "substantially commenced" and that the permits remain valid.
Mr L'Estrange said, "We are pleased that the EPA accepted the case we put to it, and has laid to rest any concerns that the permit was not valid."
"More than $239 million has been spent by Gunns across four major work streams - regulatory approvals, the commercial and financial framework, social-political interactions, and physical site works - in what is a complex and major infrastructure project for the nation," he said.
"Over $195 million has been spent since the Pulp Mill Permit was issued on 30 August 2007."
"This outcome adds welcome clarity to the whole project, but also to the ongoing discussions we're having with potential project investors."
Mr L'Estrange said negotiations were continuing with two possible equity partners for the mill project, but that there was no immediate timeframe for an outcome of those discussions.
For a full copy of the EPA Directors view regarding substantial commencement please seehttp://www.epa.tas.gov.au/.
Given the level of interest in the project, Gunns has also advised the EPA that its submission in relation to substantial commencement be made available to the public, and this has also been placed on the EPA and Gunns websites.