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THE Dover woodchips project development for a proposed $42 million woodchip port at Strathblane involves the sourcing of 800,000 tonnes of woodchips annually and 800 weekly truck movements both ways between Lonnavale and the stockpile facility at Strathblane.
Tassal claimed that the Dover woodchip port could not coexist with the company’s salmon leases in Port Esperance. Following a meeting with Tassal, Southwood Fibre’s Neville Smith said on June 7 that no resolution had been found without government assistance and that the development was on hold until discussions between the State Government and the peak bodies of aquaculture and forestry provided a way forward.
There may be an alternative to the proposed woodchip port.
In 2004 I 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.
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 (DVR) through to Bell Bay or Burnie.
About 80,000 tonnes of woodchips annually from the southern forests are railed from the Brighton Hub.
The DVR is state-owned and leased to Tasrail.
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.
Then MLC Tony Mulder put a case for reopening the DVR line using Karanja as railhead for the carriage of woodchips (Mercury, May 3, 2015).
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.
This would require bridge strengthening, reinstallation of signalling, upgrading of level crossings and compliance with TasRail’s safety requirements.
A petition is before the Huon Valley Council opposed to the Dover woodchip port development.
There remain conflicting uses of corporations which contribute to the state economy and workforce.
The alternative to the Dover woodchip port would be worth examining.
John Livermore is a transport consultant and a member of the Tasmanian Logistics Committee. This article does not represent the views of the committee.
This article first appeared on www.themercury.com.au
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