Damaged trees eyed for milling

Last updated 13:00 16/08/2014

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Sawmillers have their hands up to remove storm-damaged West Coast native timber, but no-one knows who will be granted the right to do so.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) is processing 14 applications to recover the trees under the West Coast Wind-blown Timber (Conservation Lands) Bill.

An estimated 20,000 hectares of West Coast native forest was seriously damaged by Cyclone Ita in April.

New Zealand Sustainable Forest Products (NZSFP) production manager Jon Dronfield said no-one knew what areas other applicants were interested in and whether those areas over-lapped.

He would not be "getting that excited" until the process was further along and said it was too early to "start talking about job creation at the moment".

Applications to become authorised operators are being assessed by DOC and Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) staff and iwi representatives. A DOC spokeswoman said further details could not be released yet.

Applicants had to outline expected volumes and location of timber and their operation plans. They had to pay a $500 application fee with more expenses expected to be attached to the process including bonds, insurance and monitoring costs.

Authorised operators will pay stumpage fees to DOC at rates that have been estimated at $60 and $250 per cubic metre for beech and rimu respectively. Those royalties would go toward West Coast conservation projects. Fairfax NZ

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- The Nelson Mail

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