Truck off

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - Jessie Tol­son

JULATTEN and Mt Mol­loy res­i­dents are up in arms over plans by Mackay Sugar to trans­port around 700,000 tonnes of cane from the Table­land to the Moss­man Mill us­ing B-dou­ble trucks from next year.

A let­ter from the Julatten and Mt Mol­loy As­so­ci­a­tion of Ratepay­ers and Res­i­dents to politi­cians claims ‘‘peo­ples’ lives and safety would be se­verely im­pacted’’ by the huge in­crease in vol­ume of cane hauled down the Rex Range us­ing B-dou­ble trucks.

‘‘The B-dou­ble sit­u­a­tion on the Rex Range is al­ready at a crit­i­cal level,’’ the let­ter claims.

‘‘The Rex Range was not made for and is not suit­able for B-dou­ble trucks.

‘‘Th­ese trucks are not able to tra­verse the range with­out reg­u­larly cross­ing dou­ble white lines.

‘‘The vi­bra­tion of the trucks over past years has also se­verely im­pacted on the sta­bil­ity of the road, which has at times needed sub­stan­tial re­pairs.

‘‘This ap­proval also makes a to­tal farce of any bio­di­ver­sity over­lays the State Govern­ment is try­ing to im­pose on res­i­dents in the area.

‘‘Wildlife cor­ri­dors run­ning across the high­way will be se­verely im­pacted upon as the Rex Range cuts a swathe through a vi­tal cor­ri­dor for wildlife in the Wet Trop­ics.’’

But Mackay Sugar chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Quin­ton Hilde­brand said the res­i­dents had noth­ing to fear as the pro­posed vol­ume of cane to be hauled from next year was com­pa­ra­ble to the amount trans­ported down the range prior to the con­struc­tion of the Table­land mill.

‘‘Cur­rently ap­prox­i­mately 80,000 tonnes of cane is trans­ported down the Rex Range in a typ­i­cal sea­son from June to Oc­to­ber,’’ he said.

‘‘This ac­tiv­ity in­volves five trucks (with a car­ry­ing ca­pac­ity of 22 tonnes) op­er­at­ing each hour, for five days per week over a 20-week sea­son,’’ he said.

‘‘ From the 2014 sea­son, an ad­di­tional three trucks will op­er­ate on the Rex Range ev­ery hour, lift­ing the to­tal amount of trucks to eight per hour.’’

The B-dou­ble trucks can carry 36 tonnes per load and the crush­ing sea­son will in­crease from 20 weeks to 30 weeks next year, seven days a week.

The trucks will de­liver the cane to a trans­fer sta­tion at the Cas­sowary ramps six kilo­me­tres south of Moss­man, with the cane then trans­ported to the Moss­man mill via the rail net­work.

Mackay Sugar will hold a com­mu­nity in­for­ma­tion ses­sion at the Mt Mol­loy Com­mu­nity Hall on June 4.

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