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Landowner to build roads for Marlborough forestry

A landowner intending to harvest more than 100-hectares of Marlborough Sounds pine forest in New Zealand has agreed to build his own roads to transport logs following safety concerns. Source: The Marlborough Express

Forestry company PF Olsen Ltd has applied for resource consent to allow the harvest of a 106.8-hectare forest in the Marlborough Sounds, on behalf of Christchurch-based entrepeneur Alasdair Cassels.

The Port Underwood Residents Association and the Clintondale Trust, a family trust which owns land in the area, were worried about logs and equipment being transported on local roads.

Trust director David Whyte said there were winding, gravel roads in the area that were not suitable for logging trucks.

“They are country roads, secondary roads,” he said.

The site was located at Erie Bay in Tory Channel, approximately 35 kilometres from Picton.

After taking expert advice on the state of the roads, PF Olsen withdrew its application to the Marlborough District Council to use public roads to transport the logs and said it would use privately-constructed roads.

PF Olsen harvest planner Campbell Harvey said the company was looking after the harvest plan and resource consent process for Cassels, but he did not know who would carry out the work.

He understood the work would begin as soon as possible, he said.

Mr Whyte made submissions to the council saying diggers and bulldozers were needed to undertake earthworks and they were required to be transported by heavy truck and trailer units to the site on three or four occasions over the duration of approximately 18 months.

Limited access to public roads for unladen log trucks and heavy equipment was reasonable, but Mr Whyte submitted heavy transportation movements should be restricted to weekdays.

At a council hearing on Tuesday, commissioner John Milligan said if the logging activity went ahead, non-haulage traffic would be subject to ordinary road rules.

Logging trucks would travel only on private roads from the forestry block to the Opua barge site, set up for the forestry industry.

A written decision with the result and conditions of the resource consent application would be released in 15 days.

Mr Whyte said he was happy with the outcome of the hearing. He understood two vehicles laden with equipment would go into the forestry site on Monday, and two would come out on Friday.

They would be following all the road rules such as having a pilot vehicle and having appropriate lighting and signage, Mr Whyte said.

Wood from the forestry block, which was planted in 1975, was destined for the overseas market.

Blenheim man Steven Murray, who owned a neighbouring 2-hectare forestry block in Port Underwood, said his main concern was the erosion of the hillside once all the trees were gone.

His trees were of “the same generation” as Cassels’ trees and it would make sense to take them all out at the same time, as Mr Murray’s trees could fall and block waterways if the surrounding trees were taken out.

It would be something he and his neighbours would have to negotiate with whoever took out the trees on Cassels’ property.

Mr Harvey said the forestry block was of “moderate” size compared with others in New Zealand. Council-owned forestry blocks in Marlborough were far more extensive, he said.

He did not know how much the pine forest was worth, and declined to speculate on its value.