Hinchinbrook MP, Andrew Cripps, inspected HQ Plantations sites in the Kennedy, Cardwell and Herbert River districts last week, to assess the progress of re-planting after the forestry was extremely badly damaged by Cyclone Yasi in February 2011.
Mr Cripps said, next month it would be four years since Cyclone Yasi and over the last six months, he had started to ask more urgent and pointed questions of HQ Plantations about its commitment to replanting these areas for commercial forestry.
“There is absolutely no doubt these forestry plantation areas were severely impacted by Cyclone Yasi and while the whole region needed time to recover and rebuild, I think four years is enough to make a decision about the future” said Mr Cripps.
“I’ve made it clear to senior representatives of HQ Plantations that I’m not satisfied with the progress made to utilise the land they have under lease for commercial forestry purposes and I’ve urged them to make it clear if they are staying or going” he said.
“If they are going to replant and use the land for commercial forestry – I would welcome that – but if they are in two minds about making a commitment, there are other possible commercial uses that we could use this land for” said Mr Cripps.
“Some might be used to expand the sugar industry, other areas might be suitable for small crops, some would be useful cattle country – but none of it should sit idle for an extended period of time at the expense of opportunities and jobs for the region” he said.
Mr Cripps said HQ Plantations had approximately 10,100 hectares available for production between Murray Upper and Ingham, but he understood only a small percentage of the area had been replanted since February 2011 when Cyclone Yasi struck.
“I’ve asked HQ Plantations to communicate their intentions clearly to me and to the local community in the Hinchinbrook electorate about the future of their operations here and spell out their plans so that we all know what is going on” said Mr Cripps.
“I thank HQ Plantations for facilitating my inspection of their footprint in the Hinchinbrook electorate last week and I look forward to their advice in the near future” he said.