Eastland Wood Council wants road rates to be part-paid by horticulture

By Te Ao - Māori News

The Eastland Wood Council, which advocates for the forestry industry in Gisborne and Wairoa, has hit back at the Gisborne District Council's plan to force heavy vehicles to pay higher road rates.

Its submission to the council's 10-year plan says while the industry takes responsibility for heavily using the roads, so too should horticulture. 

Poor road conditions are a problem in the area which increases the cost of repair and maintenance.

Eastland Wood Council CEO Philip Hope says forestry is a big user "but not the only user."

Hope says the council's Stantec Report specified a 15.7% increase in roading rate. The report cites potentially used forestry roads identified by council contractors. 

The forestry industry feels singled out and would prefer a model which reflected industry use of roads. 

"I'm not speaking on behalf of horticulture but what I do know is they are a major primary industry in Tairawhiti as are agriculture and forestry," Hope says. 

"We take a balanced view. We certainly will take our responsibility but we would like that to be an equitable way," Hope says. 

Tim Egan, a former chairman of Tipu Horticulture, a government-backed initiative for Tairāwhiti, says while horticulture is one of the growth industries in Te Tairāwhiti, "our industry is mainly centred on the flats and has a very small transport footprint relative to forestry."

Eastland Wood Council is working on its own independent report.