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.