Irving continues to harvest Crown land despite ban
Halt order doesn't apply to J.D. Irving Limited, says spokesman
New Brunswick's biggest forestry company says the provincial government’s ban on harvesting pulpwood on Crown land does not apply to its operations.
J.D. Irving Limited is still harvesting Crown pulp, company spokesperson Robert Fawcett confirmed on Monday.
But he says Irving has permission from the minister of Natural Resources.
"We are in full compliance with the correspondence we have received from the minister's office," Fawcett said.
"We are continuing to run our saw mill and we're continuing to delay and reduce pulpwood that we produce on Crown land wherever we can and we've made a dramatic difference in that.
"But we are still taking a little bit of pulp from Crown lands," he said.
On June 12, Natural Resources Minister Bruce Northrup announced he had issued a halt order for cutting pulpwood and whole tree chipping on Crown land.
Northrup told the annual meeting of the Federation of Woodlot Owners that he was acting to resolve a "major crisis" in the abundance of softwood pulp on the market.
Northrup said he would ensure that industry buys private wood first and that softwood pulpwood from Crown land must remain on the harvest site or roadside — although he didn't say how the new rules would be enforced or what penalties industry might face for non-compliance.
No exemptions mentioned
At the time, Northrup said nothing about any exceptions.
In fact, he told CBC News he'd check into reports of some loads of Crown pulp seen moving into the Sussex mill that morning.
Northrup was unavailable to comment Monday. A staff member at his constituency office in Sussex said the minister was in back-to-back meetings at an undisclosed location in town.
The New Brunswick Forest Products Association says its members are complying with the ministerial order.
J.D. Irving Limited is no longer a member of that group.
On Monday, a truck rolled into the Irving sawmill in Sussex with a large orange "X" on the load, indicating it’s wood from Crown land.
And according to Chris Spencer, a certified forest technician with the Southern New Brunswick Wood Co-operative Ltd., the size and condition of the wood indicates that it was pulp.
"It would certainly appear that was a load of Crown pulp, the "X" indicating that it was Crown wood, and the rot and the holes in the middle indicate it was pulpwood material," Spencer said.
Some woodlot owners had expressed skepticism over the ban when it was announced. They questioned whether the minister could enforce the halt order since he hadn't set any penalties for non-compliance.
The woodlot owners say they have not been able to sell pulpwood for months as a result of an overabundance of product caused by recent mill closings and because forestry companies are taking their supplies from Crown land at low prices.
The market share for the private woodlot sector fell to nine per cent in 2010-11 from 28 per cent in 1990-91.
A new Forest Sector Competitiveness Committee, made up of government, industry and woodlot owners, will look at long-term solutions, the minister has said.