North coast environment groups have praised the state opposition for ruling a line through the government’s plan to use woodchips from local forests to fuel furnaces in the pursuit of so-called renewable energy.
Susie Russell, vice-president of the North Coast Environment Council (NCEC), who travelled to Sydney for a meeting with opposition leader Luke Foley and shadow environment minister Penny Sharpe MLC yesterday, said their commitment not to allow forests to be burnt in power stations, would see the industry ‘dead before it gets off the ground’.
‘We are heartened that Luke Foley has given a categorical undertaking to not allow forest wood to be substituted for coal, or for stand-alone forest fired power stations to be part of the energy mix in NSW,’ Ms Russell said.
‘We know that the government-run Forestry Corporation is pinning its hopes on a new woodchip industry to try and prop up its loss-making operations, and that the logging industry is promoting the idea of woodchips direct from the forest as some sort of “renewable” energy,’ she added
‘This is more spin and lies from an industry that has been systematically degrading a public asset for decades.
‘The current Coalition governments supports dead koala power. We can call it that because much of the forest that is proposed for clear-felling on the north coast and as feed stock for such power stations, is home to koalas.
‘What this commitment does, is send a very clear message to any investors who think that wood-fired power stations on the north coast are a good idea, that they will lose their money. They cannot count on bi-partisan support.
‘The future is in genuinely renewable energy systems, and carbon polluting fuels such as wood, gas and coal have had their day,’ she said.
‘The NCEC renews its call for the NSW Government to stop logging koala habitat and publicly repudiate the Forestry Corporation’s plans for clear-felling our coastal forests. We think they need to begin a genuine dialogue with forest interest groups about what a sustainable timber industry might look like.
‘With the Forestry Corporation posting another annual loss for its native forest logging division this week, it is clear that it’s time to look at whether managing the public’s forests for more profitable and less damaging activities such as catchment protection, water supply, tourism and recreation and carbon storage might not be a wiser use for our natural heritage,’ Ms Russell said.