A A$42M plan to develop an 0.8 Mtpa woodchip and log export facility at Strathblane, near Dover in Southern Tasmania, has been approved by the state’s Department of Industries, Parks, Water and Environment.
Southwood Fibre plans to process certified plantation timbers at its existing facilities, before trucking the woodchips to a Port Esperance site comprising an onshore loading facility and amenities, woodchip pile, access roads and a shiploading conveyor belt to transport the product to waiting bulk carriers. The company said its annual production would be split into around 0.5 Mt of woodchips – requiring around 11 ship visits per annum – and the remainder in peeler logs, which would likely be shipped through Hobart.
Southwood Fibre’s plans have attracted predictable opposition from conservationists, but also from Tasmania’s largest salmon producer, Tassal, which asserts that the project “cannot coexist” with existing fish farms at Port Esperance. The Tasmanian Green Party has also raised the issue of ballast water discharge from the visiting woodchip carriers.
Southwood Fibre claims hundreds of local jobs will be created and supported by the construction and operational phases. The scheme still has to obtain approval from the local council and the Environmental Protection Authority, and must undergo a public consultation.