Mackay Sugar purchased the Mossman Sugar Mill last year. It was applauded at the time as the Mossman Mill has been struggling for a long time to source enough cane to keep the mill viable. In the last month it has been brought to the community's attention that Mackay Sugar has signed contracts with cane growers on the Atherton Tablelands to supply the shortfall of cane to the Mossman Mill - approximately 500,000 tonnes. It beggars belief that growers on the Tablelands can justify bypassing the state-of-art Tablelands Sugar Mill but that is beside the point. The point is that the residents of Mount Molloy and Julatten will now have a B-Double truck, hauling cane, travelling along the Rex Highway every 6 minutes 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for 30 weeks.
These trucks are dangerous. They will be passing our place, at 100 kmh, every six minutes and worse still heading down the Rex Range where no B-Double should ever travel. It is impossible for any truck to travel down that road without crossing the double white line, let alone a B-Double. School buses travel the range four times a day and the cane harvesting season is also peak tourist season when we have lots of tourist travelling the Rex Range.
So a meeting was called. We went to this meeting last night along with hundreds of other concerned residents. There has been no consultation with the community over the decision to haul cane from the Tablelands to Mossman and quite rightly the community is very angry.
To be fair, I understand the mills stance. They need the cane to keep the Mossman Mill running and this in turn gives Mossman a much needed boost to their economy but does it have to be at the expense of residents in our community. Compromise needs to be reached, but what compromise?
It is just terribly sad that this beautiful pristine area that we live in, where the most lucrative businesses are bird watching, is going to be subject to the noise and pollution of trucks every six minutes and lest not forget the nocturnal animals. They will not have a chance.
Pray that common sense and compromise can be reached.