The forestry industry is being asked to pay for its impact on Kaipara’s roads.
Government recognises that the industry should contribute towards the infrastructure it uses, and that ratepayers should not have to fund forestry’s profit. The Regional Development Fund (RDF) was set up by the Government as a way to meet this cost.
Northland and Tairawhiti are the focus of the $30 million fund at present, but Kaipara is missing out. The forestry industry has lobbied Northland Regional Council, who administer the RDF, asking that no money to go to the Kaipara. The RDF has been reprioritised as a result of this lobbying leaving the Kaipara with a funding short fall.
Kaipara District Council has decided to charge its targeted rate on the forestry industry for the first time, to make sure ratepayers do not have to meet the cost.
“All we are asking for is a contribution towards the infrastructure that the industry requires”, says Roading Portfolio holder Councillor Richard Alspach.
The rate will only affect land valued as Exotic Forest, in other words the almost exclusively pine forests which make up 13% of the Kaipara’s land, and does not effect small woodlots on farms as they already pay higher rates based on predominant land use.
The targeted rate will see forestry land owners’ total land-based rating contribution will rise from $140,000 to $350,000 (all figures exclude GST).
“The increase is from a very low base,” says Councillor Alspach, “up until this point six large dairy farms would pay more rates than the whole of the Kaipara’s forestry industry”.
Council adopted its Targeted Rate Policy back in 2005/06, but it has not had to levy it until this year. The rate itself is based on a model supported by the forestry industry in Southland, and is used by both Southland and Gisborne District Council’s as a way to make sure the ratepayer is not funding the industry’s costs.
Logging trucks have a huge impact on road maintenance costs. Someone has to pay for this. It is only fair that forestry helps.