Below are two media releases we put out in response to the NSW Government’s announced intention to allow trees from native forests to be taken for electricity generation. The first was done jointly with NCEC and the second focused on the northern rivers in response to the Nationals claiming credit. The Government’s intention to amend the Protection of the Environment Operations (General) Regulation 2009 to allow this has to be put on public display for 28 days, so there will be a chance to object.
MEDIA RELEASE July 11, 2013
BURNING TO REPLACE WOODCHIPPING
North Coast conservationists are fearful that a NSW Government proposal to allow burning of wood from native forests for electricity generation will result in extensive degradation of north-east NSWs public and private forests if successful.
The EPA announced yesterday that the Government proposes to amend the Protection of the Environment Operations (General) Regulation 2009 so that logging residues, sawmill residues, and “trees that might otherwise be made into pulp” can be used for electricity generation. The EPA will shortly be putting the draft regulation on public exhibition. http://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/epamedia/EPAMedia13071101.htm
Spokesperson for NEFA, Dailan Pugh, said that it was only last month that the export of woodchips from north-east NSW finally ended after 30 years. “Now the NSW Government wants to burn our forests to generate electricity.
“With the prospect of furnaces being established throughout north-east NSW and the Hunter Valley this could lead to the unprecedented degradation of native forests”.
“Our native forests are most important as homes for native plants and animals, for provision of stream flows, as storehouses of carbon and for passive recreation.
“Our forests sequester significant volumes of atmospheric carbon and store it in their wood. They are worth far more left standing as carbon storehouses to generate carbon credits than they are for logging and release of their stored carbon. Burning our carbon storehouses for electricity is one of the worst things we can do for global warming.
“The NSW Government should use the opportunity provided by the cessation of woodchipping to stop the ongoing degradation of our native forests by limiting logging to speciality purpose high value products” Mr. Pugh said.
Susie Russell, President of the North Coast Environment Council said there were no positives in the move to allow forests to be logged to feed in to power stations for electricity.
“Sawmill waste can already be used as a fuel, what is being proposed here is that trees that were being exported as woodchip (pulp) should now be burnt” she said.
“The end to export woodchipping provided the NSW Government with an opportunity to decrease logging quotas and the intensity of logging that is trashing the State Forests. Instead, they have chosen to opt for an even more destructive industry that won’t pass the sustainability test of time. The future demands innovation and clean forms of energy. This move belongs to the past,” she said.
“The proposal will be on exhibition for 28 days, we urge the community to take this opportunity to say NO!” Ms Russell said.
BURNING FORESTS FOR ELECTRICITY A BAD IDEA
MEDIA RELEASE 14/7/2013
Rather than being congratulated, NEFA considers that the North Coast Nationals Members, Don Page (Ballina), Thomas George (Lismore), Geoff Provest (Tweed) and Chris Gulaptis (Clarence) should be condemned for their efforts to feed some of the most biodiverse forests in the world into furnaces for electricity generation.
NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh said that under the existing Protection of the Environment Operations (General) Regulation 2009 sawmill residues and timber from plantations can be used for electricity generation. “The proposed changes are all about allowing native forests to be cut down for electricity generation.
“Claims that they will use logging debris such as the stumps and tops of trees are total furphies. This is what they claimed when they started export woodchipping over 30 years ago and they never used it because it is not economical to collect or transport.
“Any tree that someone decides they do not want for sawn timber is classed as forest residues.
“The reality is that it is all about cutting down trees in some of the most biodiverse forests in the world to feed into furnaces to generate electricity. Given that the Nationals are concurrently stopping environmental zoning, relaxing land clearing rules, initiating a major reduction in logging constraints and considering opening up national parks for logging, this represents the biggest single threat to our native forests and their inhabitants in many decades.
“Cutting down and burning huge numbers of trees that have been accumulating and storing atmospheric carbon for decades or centuries will release the CO2 back into the atmosphere and will significantly worsen global warming. It will take decades or centuries for any regrowth to regain the lost carbon.
“If these trees are left standing then they can go on accumulating carbon and make a significant contribution to helping reduce atmospheric CO2. Protecting native forests is part of the solution to global warming.
“There is nothing green, renewable or sustainable about destroying our primary carbon storehouses.
“Burning wood for power releases proportionally far more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than either coal or gas. Replacing one polluting fuel with a worse one at a time when we need to take urgent action to reduce our emissions does not make sense.
“It is reprehensible that this is being touted as a renewable energy that is intended to displace genuinely renewable sources such as sun and wind in satisfying our targets for 20% renewable energy by 2020.
“The Condong and Broadwater cogeneration plants have been plagued with resource and financial problems since they were commissioned in 2008. No Environmental Impact Statements were prepared on the grounds that they were going to be under 30 megawatts and primarily use sugar cane waste with some sawmill waste and Camphor Laurels.
“If the Condong and Broadwater cogeneration plants operated full time they would consume some 800,000 tonnes of biomass each year.
“To put this into perspective, 20,000 tonnes of trees were removed from public forests north from Coffs Harbour for woodchips in 2010, and volumes have since declined. It would require a massive increase in logging intensity and clearing to satisfy the desires of these power plants for high volumes of cheap wood.
“It has long been recognised that burning wood generates particulate matter, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides and a range of other organic compounds that can decrease lung function, aggravate asthma and increases the risk of developing heart diseases and even cancers. This can’t be good for the residents of Broadwater or Murwillumbah” Mr. Pugh said.