Photo caption: discarded wood pallets at the Eden tip.

Development Application (10-2020-81-1) Timber Optimisation Hub - Address by Harriett Swift

According to the Department of Planning, (under S. 4.15) all DAs before a Council[1] must consider a number of matters. These include:

  • Impacts Ö on the natural and built environment Ö. in the locality.

It doesnít say that forests arenít part of the natural environment

Iíll come back to that in a minute.

The Department of Planning also says that councils must consider:

  • Any submissions (such as from neighbours or other groups).

I remind councillors here that Ė last time round - more than 160 submissions were received and only 1 (a 24 word single sentence submitted at 2am on a Sunday morning) supported the DA.

In spite of this overwhelming public opposition to the DA, the BVSC staff delegate approved it.

And the third important factor here is:

         The broader public interest

What could be more important than protecting our unique natural assets, our climate and weather patterns, wildlife and helping to inhibit future bushfires?

Allowing the regionís forests to mature without being intensively logged for woodchips will bring an obvious benefit in other areas such as tourism, road safety, the local economy and especially the State Budget.

Returning to the environment question, this decision is not just about a couple of colorbond tin sheds.

The council documents and the company are representing it as that, but itís far more than that.

The Executive Summary on which the Officerís Recommendation to approve says: ďThe development does not seek to alter the timber processing capacity of the siteÖĒ Iíll explain why that statement is at best misleading and at worst wrong.

Think of it as dominos. If this DA is disallowed, some other things critical to the future of the native forest logging industry in this region would very likely fall over too:

-          There is a provision in ANWEís Sawlog Wood Supply Agreement for Eden commencing 1 January 2020 Ė a legally binding agreement with the Forestry Corporation Ė that requires ANWE to report progress in getting this DA approved. [2]

-          AMWE needs this approval to retain access to the sawlogs.


-          One of the foundation myths of the woodchipping industry in this region is that woodchipping Ė ANWEís core business Ėuses waste wood, that itís a by-product of sawlogging and milling. That myth actually survives today in the legal framework that governs how native forest logging is carried out.


-          Thereís actually a legal requirement that a logging operation must not be driven by low value products such as woodchips or firewood. Itís there in the Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approvals (CIFOA).[3]


-          Bizarre when you think that in 2020, 97.5% of all logging in the Eden Region was for woodchips or firewood.


-          So without approval for this DA, ANWE loses the legal window dressing for its core business, woodchipping. Itís the critical domino.

This DA is about the future of the regionís forests and Iím asking councillors to be aware of that when they vote.

Iím well aware that this wonít necessarily change any councillorís mind (anyone who reads the Eden Magnet knows that the Mayor has very firmly made up his mind) but Iím asking councillors to be aware of the full consequences of how they vote today. Your vote today is critical to the future of the native forests in this region Ė in the Bega Valley and beyond.  Itís not about a couple of colorbond sheds Ė even if theyíre green like these are. It is a massive responsibility that you, as councillors have before you and Iím asking you to vote against the approval.

 Just to finish [image of pallets at Eden tip] Ė this is whatís driving this whole thing. Pallets. They have a short life and you can see piles of them any day at the Eden tip and most other tips in the shire. Itís not a big advance on woodchips.







Part 5: Timber product requirements
31.4 Timber product requirements
1. The approval includes various requirements relating to timber product specifications and volumes in this protocol.
2. A harvesting operation must only be conducted with the purpose of producing high quality large sawlogs, high quality small sawlogs, veneer logs or piles, poles or girder logs.
3. A harvesting operation must not be conducted for the primary purpose of producing low quality logs (including salvage and firewood), pulpwood logs or heads and offcuts.
4. Condition 31.4(3) above does not apply to thinning operations for the purpose of timber production.