The impact logging trucks are expected to have on Whanganui's rural roads is likely to be the subject of a district council workshop early in the New Year.

At issue is the question of damage the big rigs are expected to create on unsealed roads and some sealed backcountry stretches and how the council can recover costs for maintenance.

It was on the rural community board agenda last month and Mayor Hamish McDouall said a workshop will be scheduled.

Whanganui has the second largest area of wood supply in the southern North Island with more than 28,600 ha planted mostly in radiata pine. A number of reports have already been prepared on the impact of forestry traffic on the roads as trees are harvested.


While harvesting generates economic growth, the current land valuation-based rating system doesn't give council enough scope to recover costs in maintaining the roads logging trucks will use.

Rui Leitao, council's senior roading engineer, told the community board that the national view is that this sort of activity needs to be rated on capital value and not land value.

A report has assessed the impact heavy vehicles will have over the next 25 years and it showed that the current road works programme would fall about $20 million short in keeping roads up their existing condition.

The NZ Transport Agency currently part-funds the roading programme but Mr Leitao said getting extra funding from the agency would need to be backed by strong data.

Mr Leitao said contributions from landowners could be covered off in a bylaw and that's one of the options that will be considered at the workshop.

He said roading authorities across the country were looking at introducing differential or targeted rates to fund maintenance. But the Whanganui council will probably want to have neighbouring councils involved in discussions because not all the timber hauled across the Whanganui road network originates from within the district.

Community board chair David Matthews said another funding option was to levy forest owners a rate of $1.30 per tonne on logs coming off their properties.

"We want to see if legally we can do that. The foresters might be keener on this option than rating them on land use," he said.