Hicks Bay wharf to re­lieve East Coast log route

New Zealand Logger - - Nzif 2018 -

A PLAN TO RE­LIEVE THE CHAL­LENG­ING coastal drive for log truck driv­ers on the East Coast by build­ing a wharf at Hicks Bay has got the thumbs up from Forestry Min­is­ter, Shane Jones.

He told the New Zealand In­sti­tute of Forestry an­nual meet­ing in Nel­son last month that one of his re­spon­si­bil­i­ties un­der his other hat, as Min­is­ter for Re­gional De­vel­op­ment, is to en­sure there is good in­fra­struc­ture for com­merce to thrive in the prov­inces.

Mr Jones pointed to the main high­way that hugs the coast north of Gis­borne as be­ing “treach­er­ous” for those who used it on a reg­u­lar ba­sis, such as log truck driv­ers, which is a hin­drance.

“The roads are treach­er­ous, they’re dif­fi­cult to main­tain and if peo­ple want to plant pine trees and then be able to har­vest them in the fu­ture they will need in­fra­struc­ture,” he says.

“That is why we are keen to help your in­dus­try in that part of the coun­try and es­tab­lish a wharfage fa­cil­ity at Hicks Bay, to take logs off the roads. This is a project that I have en­cour­aged peo­ple to back.”

It’s not a new idea – there have been sug­ges­tions in the past for a wharf to be es­tab­lished at Hicks Bay where logs trucked from forests in the north of the re­gion can be barged to a larger port and off-loaded onto ships. East­land Port and of­fi­cials from Te Uru Rakau (the newly cre­ated Forestry New Zealand) are look­ing at the fea­si­bil­ity. East­land is also work­ing on plans to re­de­velop the main port at Gis­borne to al­low two logs ships to berth at the same time, in­stead of one.

But in the wake of the To­laga Bay floods, Mr Jones has also warned that plan­ta­tion pines are un­likely to be planted on Crown land on the East Coast.

“Na­tives, yes, but not pines for har­vest­ing, it’s too risky on those hills,” he says, adding that he couldn’t di­rect pri­vate own­ers not to plant pines on their own land, which they are free to do, as long as they meet rules and reg­u­la­tions.

The Min­is­ter also had some advice to the in­dus­try about the ris­ing num­ber of logs be­ing ex­ported from New Zealand, while mills con­tinue to com­plain of wood short­ages.

“I don’t want to see logs go­ing over­seas when sawmillers and wood pro­ces­sors are telling us that they don’t have enough con­fi­dence to in­vest and ex­pand here in New Zealand, be­cause they can’t get ad­e­quate con­tracts that give them con­fi­dence of sup­ply,” says Mr Jones.

“Yes, I did talk about a tax on ex­port logs on the cam­paign trail, but that is prob­a­bly not doable and extra taxes are not a good thing for busi­nesses and I can see it is go­ing to be dif­fi­cult.

“I say to you as pro­fes­sion­als, that ex­port­ing logs with­out ref­er­ence to your neigh­bours or your neigh­bours’ chil­dren is a very big po­lit­i­cal chal­lenge for me. We do have solutions, but they will come at the level of reg­u­la­tion. I have asked that we look at whether it is a good idea for log ex­porters to be reg­is­tered, as we do for real es­tate agents.”


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