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“Dirtiest, deadliest and dearest” burning of native forest wood is now officially “renewable” energy in NSW

The State Parliament yesterday removed the final legal barrier to burning native forest wood for electricity generation.

“This opens the door to the dirtiest, deadliest and dearest form of energy generation and labelling it as ‘renewable’,” according to Chipstop Convener, Harriett Swift.

“The decision is inexplicable except as an example of the powers of persuasion of industry and corporate lobbyists,” she said.

The Shooters and Fishers and Christians joined coalition members in the Upper House to vote down a move to disallow the regulation, the Protection of the Environment Operations (General) Amendment (Native Forest Bio-material) Regulation 2013. It was introduced last year, but until yesterday had been in legal limbo, subject to the “Disallowance Motion.”

“This was a tragic day for the forests and for the renewable energy industry, which will now face subsidised competition from dead koala power,” Ms Swift said.

“It means that whole trees can be logged for the sole purpose of burning, but the Government and the logging industry are calling those trees ‘waste’.”

“What could be more absurd than cutting down a perfectly good tree, living, breathing and growing in the forest where it may have stood for hundreds of years and pretending that burning it is renewable energy?”

 “In the south east, the move could actually lead to more intensive logging because the few species of tree not currently taken by the woodchippers will be eligible and suitable for burning,” she said.

“While South East Fibre Exports has repeatedly said it is not interested in reviving its old plans to set up a wood fired power station, we note that the chipmill did put in a submission to the State Government supporting the regulation.”

“Chipstop was forced to pay for a freedom of information request to obtain the SEFE submission,” she said.

“The economies of scale made possible by the new law may change the economics of the industry and make it more attractive to SEFE.”

“The federal coalition has promised to subsidise burning native forest wood as renewable energy and it is probably only a matter of time before this happens,” she said.

8 May 2014