BOTWOOD, N.L.– Central Newfoundland, and Botwood in particular, has been chosen as the site for another major industrial development.
Bulk Logistics, a company based in the United Kingdom, is looking to partner with Harold Sheppard Ltd., the sawmill outside Point Leamington, to create a sorting yard on Route 350 that would service not only Central Newfoundland, but the east and west regions as well.
Most importantly, the company plans to ship debris from those operations – bark, pulpwood and other non-useable material – to the UK for use in hydroelectric facilities.
“The reality is, in the new, greener economy, in places like Europe and Asia, you are moving away from fossil fuels,” Bulk Logistics project manager Rod Black – a Grand Falls-Windsor native – told the Advertiser Jan. 29, adding that furnaces for which the chips are destined in Wales are scheduled to come online in the next 18 months.
“We’d like to be supplying a piece of that (UK market) if we can.”
This is the latest in a series of timber-based operations to be proposed in the area – about five in the past eight years. CBC recently reported on the NewGreen project and its demise, but Black and Botwood Mayor Scott Sceviour agreed that the Bulk Logistics plan has more in common with historical industry in the area, and as such, a better chance of working.
“In the 1860s, we were shipping timber to the UK,” Sceviour said Jan. 29. “And now we’re trying to do it again.”
The mayor said the project would create 145 full-time, high-paying jobs right away and that projections are over 300 jobs in three to five years. These figures, he said, do not include construction work.
For his part, Black said this proposal differs from others in that they could conceivably start right away if the province allocates the required timber rights.
“There’s been timber-related projects here before, but this one is different,” Black said. “When I came back over (from the UK), I came with orders in my back pocket.”
The timeline, he said, depends on the allocation of timber from the province. If things move quickly, Bulk Logistics would like to see ships laden with wood chips heading out of Botwood as soon as this coming spring.
“It’s not a complicated business plan,” Black said. “No one is re-inventing the wheel here.”
According to Black and Sceviour, there is one big hurdle to overcome to get the project off the ground.
“The only barrier here is the provincial government … giving the allocation of the timber,” Sceviour said, noting that Bulk Logistics is not asking for any capital from the province.
The mayor said he would like to see the province put “reasonable” conditions in place for the allocation, and ensure it is located in the central region of the province for ease of access.
“Don’t put a condition in place that will make it fail,” he said.
The Advertiser reached out to the Department of Fisheries and Land Resources but did not hear back before deadline. Updates will be provded as information becomes available.