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A wood pellet processor at the Eden chipmill could be even worse than the proposed wood fired power station, according to forest campaigner and convener of the Chipstop campaign, Harriett Swift.

South East Fibre Exports’ (SEFE) plan to build a wood pellet maker at the chipmill became known last week.

Ms Swift says that the rules controlling the processing and export of pellets are even less exacting than those governing the burning of native forest wood for electricity generation.

“If the pellets are exported, there are virtually no constraints on how they are made and sold,” she said.

“But if SEFE plans to sell the pellets domestically as “renewable” energy, with the subsidies that this attracts, it is going to run into the same difficulties as the wood fired power station.”

“Plans for the power station are over two years behind schedule and it is obvious that SEFE is running into trouble with its efforts to gain State Government approval.

“It looks as if SEFE sees the pellet maker as a way to generate some cash while it works on other ways to make the power station financially viable,” she said.

Ms Swift said she is highly skeptical about statements by chipmill managers that they are planning to sell the pellets locally.

“Until we see a development applicant for the plant, we will not know its capacity or cost, but it is hard to believe that SEFE would invest in a plant like this for a small and uncertain local market.

“It is clear that the company is increasingly viewing its future in highly polluting energy rather than its traditional woodchip market.”

19 December 2010