PORT Macquarie-Hastings council will purchase a 70 hectare eucalypt-forested plantation surrounding the Kew waste water treatment plant from Forestry Corporation.
The buyout proposal of the current plantation joint venture agreement (JVA) with Forestry Corporation will cost $143,544.
This will allow council to gain full control over the forested area around the water treatment plant and secure the future effluent management strategy.
In 2005, council entered into a JVA with State Forests of NSW (now Forestry Corporation) for the management of the approximately 70ha site surrounding the Kew waste water treatment plant. The agreement allowed Forestry Corporation to be registered on council's title for the purpose of utilising the land to develop a commercial eucalypt plantation for which council would receive a profit share from the sale of the harvested timber.
Since the time of determination of this agreement, Forestry Corporation have established a mixed species eucalypt plantation on the site.
The plantation approximately mid-way through its 30 year harvest cycle
As part of the current Kew waste water treatment plant upgrade project, council has identified that in order to meet EPA requirements for re-use of treated effluent, a significant expansion of the irrigation scheme is required from the current seven hectare scheme to a 70ha scheme that would cover the entire lot containing the plantation.
With Forestry seeking to harvest the plantation in the next 15 years, there is a high likelihood that this logging operation would either significantly damage any proposed irrigation infrastructure, or alternatively, would substantially limit Forestry's ability to efficiently harvest the timber, a report to council said.
The report noted that the condition of the trees in some areas of the plantation, generally the low lying areas, are considered poor and are unlikely to be suitable for use in typical timber applications meaning they would more likely be utilised for pulp or similar yielding a lower return.
"Council has commenced negotiations with Forestry Corporation who have been agreeable to the proposed buyout on the condition that they are suitably compensated to the value of the plantation," the report said.
The buyout proposal requests council to pay out Forestry Corporation's 49.4 per cent share of the agreement valued at $143,544. Following this the JVA would be terminated and council would regain full control of the plantation.
Council engaged an independent consultant to undertake a valuation of the plantation who valued the Forestry Corporation share at a similar price.
Forestry Corporation is also required to complete any of the outstanding maintenance tasks in accordance with the requirements of the JVA prior to council accepting the buyout proposal. This will involve Forestry Corporation completing a fuel reduction burn which is currently scheduled for autumn 2021.
The Kew waste water treatment plant (WWTP) project will allow for the increased development in the Camden Haven, Kew and Kendall areas, including the Area 15 growth area and to relieve pressure on the trunk sewer network in Lakewood and Laurieton by diverting flows to the Kew WWTP from the Dunbogan WWTP.
The project is currently in the concept design phase.
The treatment plant achieves 100 per cent re-use of treated effluent by irrigating to the surrounding plantation and supplying the Kew Country Club with treated effluent for irrigation.
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