12 December 2001
However, residents fear things could get a lot worse if the proposed charcoal factory south of Mogo goes ahead. There would be a significant increase in large semi-trailers on the roads. Log transport would be almost doubled, a third of them using the Kings Highway. Semi-trailers would take charcoal to Lithgow, and, according to the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the proposal, more semi-trailers would carry sawdust, other wastes and supplies such as chemicals and LPG.
The Charcoalition of groups opposing the proposal has obtained a report from the RTA which mentions some of the road works that will be needed to enable B-doubles to use the Kings Highway. “The work listed in the report is going to cost taxpayers millions of dollars but it won’t improve road safety because there’ll be much more heavy vehicle traffic,” says Chris Kowal, spokesperson for the Charcoalition.
“The RTA report doesn’t mention all the other works in the area that will have to be done to accommodate these massive vehicles. For instance, several Princes Hwy bridges will need to be replaced including the one at Wagonga Inlet, Narooma. And the Braidwood to Goulburn road, which is completely ignored in the EIS, can’t even cope safely with increased numbers of semi-trailers let alone B-doubles.”
The Kings Hwy on Clyde Mountain is notorious for land slips. A recent accident was attributed by police to the road verge collapsing. According to RTA calculations, heavy vehicles do as much damage to roads as thousands of cars. “How many more landslips and highway closures will be attributable to the charcoal industry in the future?” asks Mr Kowal. “And what impact will the closures have on the local economy? The EIS didn’t consider these matters either.”
Most of these heavy vehicles would pass through the centre of the tourist town of Mogo yet the EIS says that there will be no impact on tourism. Mogo’s business people do not agree. They believe that their livelihoods are threatened.
Many businesses in Eurobodalla’s tourism industry don’t agree either. They have been promoting self-drive holidays to the “Nature Coast”. Most tourism industry operators believe the increase in heavy vehicles would make holiday driving more dangerous. And they say that the charcoal factory, together with the intensive forestry to supply it, would undermine the image of an unspoilt “Nature Coast”.
It is likely that the closing date for submissions will be extended to 16 January but at the time of this release the closing date is 21 December 2001.