Marlborough forestry barge site plans progress as council prepares to invest

In March 7, 2017

Marlborough is embarking on a project which could see a million tonnes of logs shipped through part of the Marlborough Sounds, with the council giving a $730,000 barge site plan the go-ahead.

The plan will allow harvested timber to be shipped from Kenepuru Sound to Havelock and Picton, so heavy trucks do not have to use a winding rural road.

The chairman of Kenepuru and Central Sounds Residents’ Association said the council put plans for a barge site “on the backburner” last year, and the sooner it went ahead the better for both the community and foresters.

Council resource management advisor Jon Cunliffe said if all went to plan he expected the site to be finished in September 2018.

Foresters in the area still have to sign a memorandum stating they will use the barge, not the road, before the investment is made.

While the site will be in northern Kenepuru Sound the exact location has not been finalised, and further talks are being held with foresters, the community, and other stakeholders, Cunliffe said.

At a full council meeting on Thursday, Marlborough District Council agreed to budget $300,000 to let the project to enter the next phase, in addition to the $430,000 it budgeted for last year.

However Cunliffe told councillors he was confident NZTA would eventually provide the extra funding. The barge site needed a longer causeway than originally thought, creating the extra expense.

Residents’ association chairman Ross Withell said heavy trucks using Kenepuru Rd – which was damaged by the earthquake and the flooding in November, as well as being a winding road – was a major safety concern.

Ten years ago forestry operations caused major headaches for residents in the Kenepuru Sound area.

“Nobody was actually injured or killed, but trucks went far too fast for the conditions,” Withell said.

The barge site was vitally important for the foresters themselves, as most had to transport their logs by water under their resource consents.

They could not afford to all have separate barge sites, Withell said.

Between 2015 and 2041 it was estimated more than 2.3 million tonnes of logs would be shipped from the Marlborough Sounds in total, and a similar amount of logs would be shifted during the second harvest cycle, between 2042 and 2068.

Nearly half a million tonnes would leave Kenepuru Sound during each harvest cycle.

Two different types of vessel would likely use the site, one taking logs to Picton, which involved sailing in the open sea, and the other taking logs through the Sounds to Havelock, Cunliffe said.

The council had no involvement when it came to the barges themselves.

“All we are producing is a docking facility for them to tie up and load up,” Cunliffe said.

Marlborough forestry barge site plans progress as council prepares to invest by Elena Mcphee.  Available from <> [Last updated 17:01, March 5 2017]

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