03/19/2014 02:26 EDT | Updated 05/19/2014 05:59 EDT

New Brunswick government to release contracts for timber from Crown land

FREDERICTON - Details of new Crown wood contracts with forestry companies will be released by the New Brunswick government once they have all been signed, Natural Resources Minister Paul Robichaud said Wednesday.

Green party leader David Coon called on the government earlier in the day to release the contract signed with J.D. Irving Ltd. for wood from Crown land.

Coon said he's concerned about obligations Premier David Alward's government might have agreed to.

"I'm worried it could involve serious compensation, a lot of money, to be paid to J.D. Irving if the volume of wood that's laid out in the contract is not delivered at whatever the dates are in the contract," Coon said.

"I worry this contract handcuffs the hands of future governments to the policies of the Alward government."

Last week, the government released a 10-year forestry plan that will allow forestry companies to harvest an additional 660,000 cubic metres of softwood a year — a hike of 20 per cent from existing levels.

Robichaud said the details of the contracts with forestry companies will be released once a series of announcements are made by all of the companies.

"We do not have a problem to release all the information," he said.

Irving has announced plans to modernize sawmills in Saint John, Doaktown and Chipman, and Robichaud said announcements from other companies will be made soon.

Robichaud said it could take months to determine where all the extra softwood will come from, but his department will produce maps once that is done.

Coon said he's anxious to see the maps because he has concerns for the protection of forests and wildlife.

"Hopefully we'll see the maps and that will shed some light on where all of this wood is magically coming from," Coon said.