Who is the proponent?
The project proponent is Southwood Fibre, part of the Neville-Smith Group, which is one of Tasmania’s most respected sawmilling operators.
What is the proposal?
The Neville-Smith Group have been operating in Tasmania since the 1920’s and have announced their intention to invest $42 million into upgrading facilities at their existing Southwood facility, south of Hobart to create a new Integrated Timber Processing Facility.
The project will see product from certified plantation forests processed into woodchips at the existing Southwood Integrated Timber Processing Facility for transport to a purpose built single use loading facility at Strathblane, where produce will be packed into vessels for direct export.
Only produce that is Australian Forestry Standard and/or Forest Stewardship Council certified will be exported.
Where will it be located?
Timber will be processed into woodchips at the existing Southwood Integrated Timber Processing Facility in Southwood, Tasmania just south-west of Judbury. Processed product will then be transported some 70 km on forestry roads to a single use loading handling facility at Strathblane, near Dover where it will be exported.
What are the benefits of the project?
Australia is one of the world’s top four hardwood chip producers in the world, with the sector contributing approximately half a billion dollars to the Tasmanian economy each year.
The project is predicted to provide a significant economic boost to the Huon Valley Region. According to the social and economic impact assessment completed in August 2017 by KPMG, the project will create 135 jobs and $54 million of additional value during construction and support 145 jobs and $55 million of value once fully operational. The majority of jobs created will be in the construction, trades and manufacturing sectors. The project is fully funded by Southwood Fibre and has not received any Federal or State government funding support.
The proposal has been designed to minimise impact on the environment and utilise existing infrastructure as much as possible. All product will be transported on existing forestry roads, avoiding public highways and residential areas. Trucks will need to cross the Huon Highway at one point and approval has been sought to upgrade that section of road in order to accommodate this traffic to ensure vehicles can cross as quickly and safely as possible.
A new access road will be constructed from the Huon Highway into the single use load handling facility.
Where will the wood be sourced from?
Wood will only be sourced from coupes where there is a Forest Practices Plan in place that is certified in accordance with the Forest Practices Act 1985 and where the wood supply is certified under a certification scheme such as the Australian Forestry Standard or Forest Stewardship Council.
This project is plantation forest based and focused on revitalising the viability of the plantation sector in the region. This project represents a new era in plantation development in Tasmania’s south.
Does the project have local support?
Until now the project has been in development phase and therefore not in the public sphere, however we intend to liaise closely with the local community to seek their feedback on the proposal.
What is the current status of the project?
The proposal is currently going through the State Government approvals process. The document at the bottom of this page outlines the current status of the project as we work through this process.
What are the environmental impacts of the project?
The project has been designed to create minimal environmental impact. Existing timber processing facilities at the Southwood site will be upgraded and existing forestry roads used. Some clearing work will be required to construct roads from the Huon Highway to the single use load handling facility and as per the environmental impact assessment, the minimum amount of clearing necessary for the infrastructure will be done and aside from some short term, localised impact there will be no long term environmental impacts.
Flora and fauna assessments have been undertaken and no swift parrot or orange-bellied parrot habitats were identified in the project zone.
Will the project create any noise pollution?
An independent environmental noise assessment was undertaken earlier in 2017 and found that noise emission levels were anticipated to be well below the criteria set for the sector. Despite this, the EPA have established a set of noise monitoring guidelines and Southwood Fibre will of course fully comply with these requirements.
Processing of the product will occur at the existing facility at Southwood not at the single use load handling facility at Strathblane.
Will there be any impact on the marine environment?
The proposed single use load handling facility will be located adjacent to an existing aquaculture lease and associated infrastructure.
A detailed marine impact assessment was completed in early 2017. Southwood Fibre are confident we can construct and operate the facility well within requirements and will work extremely hard to minimise any impact on our precious marine environment
When will the project be operational?
Southwood Fibre are hopeful of being operational within four years once the approvals process has been cleared. The first step will be going into the detailed design process to ensure compliance with any permits and conditions and we anticipate construction will take up to 24 months.
What number of vessel movements will there be?
There will be one vessel in at the load handling facility for between three and four days, approximately every six weeks.
Why is it called a load handling facility and not a port?
This is a facility for one purpose as opposed to a port which is for many clients and many purposes. Ports are very busy places and require many different services and infrastructure to keep them running, for example pilotage, towing, tug assistance, cargo handling, and a vast range of infrastructure to accommodate different types of clients such as passenger and cargo terminals, dry bulk, liquid bulk, multiple transport links and complex vessel management systems.
This is a facility that will be purpose built for one singular purpose which is to export woodchips that originate from the purpose built wood hopping facility at Southwood. It does not need to accommodate significant numbers of vessel movements or a wide range of customers so does not need to have the infrastructure or footprint of a normal port operation.
What happens to wood that cannot be used for woodchips?
All produce is used. Produce that is too fine to be exported as woodchips will be sold for garden mulch and chicken bedding.