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Byron Shire
July 7, 2022

Trees to replace coal for energy under guise of sustainability?

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Redbank power plant proposed to be rebooted with a million tonnes of forest biomass. Photo supplied

The rejection of the recommendation to NSW government to ‘declassify forest biomass as a form of renewable energy and ensure it’s not eligible for renewable energy credits’ has left the door open for forests in north-east NSW to be used as biomass for renewable energy say conservation groups. 

The recent NSW parliamentary inquiry into ‘Sustainability of energy supply and resources in New South Wales’ found the burning of forest biomass for power generation is ‘not economically or environmentally sustainable, and it generates significant carbon emissions’. Dailan Pugh from North East Forest Alliance (NFEA) said that ‘On Monday the NSW Government showed its disregard for both climate heating and koalas by dismissing the committee’s recommendations on the grounds that they think it’s fine to burn native forests as long as some sawlogs are also removed.

‘This opens up north-east NSWs forests, one of the world’s centres of both species diversity and endemism, for woodchipping on the scale of the Eden forests, where over 90 per cent of the trees are logged for woodchips,’ Mr Pugh said.

‘This is contrary to the Government’s claims of moving to net zero carbon and doubling koala populations, burning native forests for electricity puts us and Koalas on an extinction trajectory.’

Trees not renewable energy  

‘This is particularly distressing as several companies are currently vying to use our native forests to replace coal for generating electricity,’ said North Coast Environment Council spokesperson Susie Russell.

‘Verdant Earth Technologies want to restart the mothballed Redbank power station near Singleton. It will burn over a million tonnes of wood a year, most of it from native forests, and Sweetman Renewables claim to have inked a contract to export native forest woodchips to Japan to be burnt for electricity generation.

Update: The Echo has been informed by Verdant Earth Technologies that they have no agreements to secure future wood supply contracts from Sweetman’s Renewables or any of its subsidiaries and that they not planning to burn over a million tonnes of wood a year, most of it from native forests.

‘Burning trees for electricity is more polluting than coal, and pretending it’s renewable energy with no carbon emissions is a frighteningly dangerous fallacy.

‘We are in a climate emergency, at current rates of emissions within eight years we will have burnt through our carbon budget and have no chance of limiting global warming to 1.5C. We need to start reducing our emissions right now, by transitioning to genuine renewables with no carbon emissions. We need to stop burning stuff for electricity generation.

‘It’s essential to leave our forests standing so that they can go on taking carbon out of the atmosphere and help clean up our mess.

‘By supporting business as usual logging and dismissing the Inquiry’s recommendations, the Government has missed yet another opportunity to lower emissions, support genuine renewables and stop the decline of koalas to extinction,’ Ms Russell said.


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3 COMMENTS

  1. The vandalism perpetrated under the Baird/Berejiklian/Perrottet NSW Administrrtion continues on. They have no shame. A pity that last Saturday was only a ‘Super Saturday’ by-election show. A NSW State election can’t come quick enough.

  2. Forest biomass is a form of renewable energy fundamentally so.

    The issue of sustainability revolves around how much one harvests in a given timeframe.

    The self-proclaimed environmentalists need to stop trying to say wood is not renewable, when clearly it is, and start engaging with the issue of reducing demand for energy. This needs to start with leading by example, universally

  3. What a profound and deadly disgrace. Whoever is responsible needs to be sacked and face charges, because biomass is a crime against humanity and the environment.

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