Feedback sought on logging trucks

SONIA BEAL
Last updated 07:13 09/12/2013

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Nelson forestry company New Zealand Forestland is inviting feedback on its plan to use logging trucks on public roads in the Port Underwood area.

About 40 people attended the company's meeting in Picton on Thursday last week, including residents and members of the Picton business community.

Angus Malcolm, of New Zealand Forestland, told the meeting that the company planned to buy land at Whataroa Forest and use public roads to cart the logs.

In an application to the Marlborough District Council at the end of August, Mr Malcolm said: "This is for a continuation of the status quo of an accepted level of logging traffic - 10 loaded trucks per day. We will work to this level so as not to compromise roading infrastructure or public acceptance of log truck operation."

Marlborough District Council assets and services manager Mark Wheeler said that part of the company's original consent conditions meant they could not use public roads without council consent.

The company has said it would use a barge to transport logs to Shakespeare Bay for export whenever possible and would run trucks on the roads only between 7am and 5pm. It has also agreed that no trucks would use the roads within 24 hours of rainfall exceeding 10mm.

Harvesting of the forest could take between two and five years, Mr Malcolm said.

Replanting was logical usage for the land, and would provide employment opportunities for contractors over the next 10-15 years.

Port Underwood resident Simon Chaffey said that the road damage he had seen as a result of logging trucks in the area over the past 12 years he had lived at his address, and during the other 13 he had holidayed there, was "unbelievable".

One logging truck driving on Port Underwood Rd was the equivalent of 6000 cars, and there were up to 10 trucks that used the road each day, Mr Chaffey said.

The trucks were driving on a "farm track", a narrow road not built for them, which was a danger to other drivers and pedestrians, he said.

"These trucks can't even drive around corners without crossing the white line," he said.

Waikawa resident Graham Gosling, who has lived in the area for eight years, said a few people at the meeting had raised concerns about the number of logging trucks that would be driving on the roads each day.

"For me personally, I've got concerns about logging trucks coming through at peak times in the summer, even in the Picton township," he said.

Mr Malcolm said interest groups had until mid-January to provide their feedback to the company before they put their application before the Marlborough District Council assets and services committee in February.

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In 1979 the Marlborough County Council granted consent to establish a commercial plantation forest at Whataroa.

About 600 hectares of forest, planted between 1980 and 1984, has reached maturity.

- The Marlborough Express

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