Whanganui District Council's proposal to make the forestry industry pay a bigger share of the damage it does to roads will go ahead with councillors voting 7-6 in favour of a targeted rate.

It means from July council will collect a further $135,000 a year from forestry properties specifically to cover the cost of repairing damage caused by harvesting.

The rate was approved as councillors debated submissions to its long term plan.

Council's finance general manager Mike Fermor said the damage to roads from forestry was expected to cost $12.2 million over the next decade with the council having to pay $4.8m.


"Those costs have to be borne by somebody," he said.

Because forestry properties are worth less than land used for farming, it paid a lower roading rate which wasn't in line with the damage is caused.

Forestry properties will now pay an average of $681 per year towards damage related to harvesting while commercial properties will chip in $31, farming $23 and residential $2.

Without the new rate commercial properties ($77) and farms ($58) would be paying more than forestry's $16 per year for forestry related damage.

"Yes it's a high rates rise, we don't deny that, but they are being subsidised and the farm and the commercial property is paying more than the forestry property if we do nothing today," Fermor said.

Council has looked at a range of option including charging by time and distance but none were legal or practical.

"Are there some inequities for some properties? Yes.

"This is probably the best option of the bad bunch of tools local government has."

The forestry rate had the backing of 53 per cent of submitters including Federated Farmers while the Whanganui Rural Community Board has pushed for it for years.

Board chairman David Matthews said forestry property produced 530 tonne per hectare as opposed to pastoral farming's 8-12 tonne per hectare.

"For every load that comes off a pastoral farm, 50 come off forestry. That's a fact."

But some councillors, including Rob Vinsen and Charlie Anderson, agreed with industry concerns that there had not been enough consultation.

Vinsen wanted the rate delayed by a year while Anderson said he might have supported the rate if the industry had been more involved.

"The thing that sticks with me is that the forestry companies acknowledge that they need to pay something but you had six or seven companies all sitting there singing from the same song sheet," Anderson said.

"These people need to be given the benefit of the doubt."

But councillor Alan Taylor, a former community board chairman, disputed the industry's claims of a lack of consultation.

He had been working on the issue for years and council's intention was well documented.

"If they want further consultation what can that be about except delaying the rate?

"We're offering them a pretty substantial discount now in acknowledgement of their input into the Whanganui economy.

"It's taken 13 years to get ot this table. Let's not make it 14."

The rate passed 7-6 with councillors Taylor, Joblin, Craig, Baker-Hogan, Chandulal-Mackay, Duncan and McDouall in favour.

The council also voted unanimously to works with the forestry industry to lobby central government for additional funding streams to offset the impact of forestry harvesting
and to manage theimpact on the district's roading network to minimize costs.