Rail idea for wood­chips

The Gazette (Derwent Valley) - - NEWS -

A TRANS­PORT ex­pert says in­creased traf­fic caused by a pro­posed $42 mil­lion wood­chip port could be al­le­vi­ated by a Der­went Val­ley rail re­vival.

The South­wood Fi­bre pro­posal is tipped to cre­ate 135 jobs dur­ing construction.

It would in­volve trans­port­ing wood­chips from the South­wood wood pro­cess­ing fa­cil­ity on log­ging roads to the ex­port load­ing fa­cil­ity over­look­ing Port Esper­ance at Strath­blane, just south of Dover.

The pro­ject’s draft de­vel­op­ment ap­pli­ca­tion was in­ad­ver­tently pro­vided to the Greens as part of a re­quest made un­der Right to In­for­ma­tion laws.

The de­vel­op­ment ap­pli­ca­tion says the plant would op­er­ate around the clock and process 800,000 tonnes of wood­chips a year.

It reveals there would be 800 to 900 truck jour­neys a week — mostly B-dou­bles — along the route, through the Esper­ance Con­ser­va­tion Area on their way to Dover.

An­other 800 truck move­ments a week will be needed to bring the logs to the mill for chip­ping from forests around south­ern Tas­ma­nia.

The pro­posal is op­posed by many lo­cals, the tourism in­dus­try and fish farmer Tas­sal, which has leases in Port Esper­ance.

Trans­port con­sul­tant John Liver­more said in an opin­ion piece for the Mer­cury, the Gazette’s par­ent pub­li­ca­tion, there could be an al­ter­na­tive to the pro­posed wood­chip port.

In 2004 Mr Liver­more gave a pa­per to the As­so­ci­a­tion of Aus­tralian and New Zealand for the Ad­vance­ment of Sci­ence which looked at the South­wood Re­port of Forestry Tas­ma­nia.

“This re­port con­sid­ered var­i­ous routes for car­ry­ing out tim­ber prod­ucts from the Huon in­clud­ing saw logs. I sup­ported its pro­posal for us­ing the Lane Link Rd through the Styx Val­ley,” Mr Liver­more wrote.

“Steve Ker­ri­son, then chief ex­ec­u­tive of Pa­cific Na­tional, in­di­cated that a trans­fer sta­tion could be built at Karanja for $1 mil­lion to en­able rail­ing via the Der­went Val­ley Rail­way line through to Bell Bay or Burnie.”

For­mer MLC Tony Mul­der put a case for re­open­ing the DVR line us­ing Karanja as rail­head for the car­riage of wood­chips in May 2015.

“The DVR is state owned and leased to Tas­rail,” Mr Liver­more wrote.

“The Der­went Val­ley Rail­way As­so­ci­a­tion has plans for tourism op­er­a­tions to Mount Field Na­tional Park. How­ever, a com­ple­tion date de­pends on ac­cess to the line be­ing se­cured by the as­so­ci­a­tion from the State Gov­ern­ment.

“The line from Norske Skog pa­per mill is open and op­er­a­tional to Bridgewater for freight.

“The ques­tion is, against the $42 mil­lion for the es­tab­lish­ment of the Dover wood­chip pro­ject, what would it cost to re­ha­bil­i­tate the DVR line to take freight wood­chips?

“There is also the con­sid­er­a­tion of the tourism aims of the DVR line and their com­pat­i­bil­ity with a freight task. No cur­rent es­ti­mates ex­ist for the cost of this up­grad­ing of the DVR line. “Tas­Rail’s broad es­ti­mate of the cost for its own in­ter­nal pur­poses for freight up­grades to the DVR line would be $60 mil­lion.”

For­est In­dus­tries As­so­ci­a­tion of Tas­ma­nia chief Terry Ed­wards said last month the pro­ject was on hold while South­wood and Tas­sal dis­cussed co­ex­is­tence is­sues.

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