OBERON Council’s push to find a solution to its problem of unrateable forestry land looks to be gaining momentum.
It comes after Oberon Council general manager Gary Wallace and mayor Kathy Sajowitz attended the NSW Country Mayors Association (NSWCMA) AGM and general meeting on November 3.
At the meeting, Cr Sajowitz requested the support of NSWCMA in establishing a working party to address the issue of unrateable forestry land and the repercussions faced by Oberon ratepayers due to the impact of heavy haulage logging trucks on local roads. She said there was no contribution made by what is essentially a commercial enterprise, Forestry Corporation of NSW.
At the first meeting of the working party, Cr Sajowitz undertook to submit a motion to the Local Government NSW annual conference seeking industry support and NSW Government intervention.
The working party is supported by Bellingen, Snowy Monaro, Snowy Valleys, Shoalhaven, Lithgow, Bega Valley, Dungog and Armidale Regional councils, all of which attended the meeting.
It was agreed that the following motion would be lodged by Oberon Council:
“That the NSW Government abolish the rate exemption that currently applies to operational land managed and worked by the Forestry Corporation of NSW; and that the state government introduce a system for transport infrastructure contributions by forestry corporations to address the ongoing infrastructure maintenance, upgrade and renewal needs of council roads. This is specifically to address the roads, bridges, culverts and drainage infrastructure impacted upon by forestry operations, especially but not limited to heavy forestry vehicles."
Forestry Corporation of NSW manages more than 2000 square kilometres of pine plantations in NSW, but does not pay any rates.
Forestry Corporation of NSW’s annual report for 2014/15 details a profit of $45 million.
Owners of private plantations are required to pay rates which contribute to local service provision including roads and bridges used in the transport of logs.