Res­i­dents protest trucks

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

CON­CERNED cit­i­zens gath­ered at the Ri­fle Range Bridge in Mt Mol­loy last Thurs­day to protest against the pro­posed in­crease in truck move­ments down the Rex Range to sup­ply the Moss­man mill with sugar cane from the Table­lands.

The res­i­dents have formed the Steer­ing Com­mit­tee for Sus­tain­able Lo­cal Area Man­age­ment and are con­cerned about the plans to truck 700,000 tonnes of sugar cane from the Table­lands to the Moss­man mill via the Rex Range.

They claim the Mackay Sugar, which owns the Moss­man mill, will be us­ing 12 B-Dou­ble trucks per hour, 24 hours a day, dis­rupt­ing the peace­ful ham­lets and us­ing the Rex Range road which was never in­tended for that vol­ume of heavy traf­fic.

A re­cent meet­ing was held in Julatten spear­headed by Robyn Rose saw over 80 peo­ple at­tend who are against the haulage in­crease which they claim raises is­sues for the road’s con­di­tion, safety, noise and en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues.

‘‘The B-dou­ble sit­u­a­tion on the Rex Range is al­ready at a crit­i­cal level,’’ Ms Rose said.

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

‘‘Any­one who has driven this road knows the con­di­tion it is in and one can only guess at how much worse it will get.

‘‘But it is more than just a road is­sue, what about the en­vi­ron­ment and safety of other road users.

‘‘One-lane bridges, pot­holes, nar­row roads - it is go­ing to af­fect other road users in many ways, from delays to de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of roads to the point it will cause ma­jor wear and tear on your car or bike.

‘‘Our wildlife will be af­fected our air qual­ity will suf­fer and our lives in gen­eral will be worse off.

‘‘It may be the mill and grow­ers’ liveli­hood but it is our lives that will be af­fected in the long-term.

‘‘We are the meat in the very un­palat­able, prover­bial sand­wich.’’

Mackay Sugar chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Quin­ton Hilde­brand said res­i­dents have noth­ing to fear as the pro­posed vol­ume of cane to be halued was com­pa­ra­ble to the amounts trans­ported be­fore the con­struc­tion of the Table­land Mill.

‘‘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,’’ he said.

But this fig­ure is only for one way, mean­ing there will be 16 B-Dou­ble trucks per hour us­ing the route from May to Novem­ber.

Mt Mol­loy res­i­dent and busi­ness owner Melissa Bloore said the road won’t cope with that level of truck us­age.

‘‘And if the sea­son will run for 30 weeks, it will end in Novem­ber, just in time for wet sea­son,’’ she said.

‘‘Who will pay for the re­pairs to the roads and how will they get it done in the mid­dle of the Wet?’’

Mackay Sugar is hold­ing a com­mu­nity in­for­ma­tion ses­sion at the Mt Mol­loy Com­mu­nity Hall on June 4 at 5pm and con­cerned res­i­dents are pre­par­ing a pe­ti­tion that will be ready for sig­na­tures on the night.

Pic­ture: JESSIE TOL­SON

PROTEST: at the Rilfe Range Bridge

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