Stop NSW plan to burn forests for electricity

The NSW government wants to allow native forests to be burned to generate electricity. Photo: Lorraine Bower.

About 30 people rallied outside NSW state parliament on August 15 to protest plans by the Liberal state government to change regulations to allow native forest biomass to be burned to generate electricity.

Environment groups are worried the change will lead to wholesale destruction of native forests and woodlands to feed the power generators.

Protests were also held in Bega and Bellingen on the same day. The rallies were sponsored by an alliance of environment conservation organisations.

In publicity for the protests, Nature Conservation Council of NSW chief executive Pepe Clarke said: "The government is giving the logging industry the green light to use almost any tree not suitable for saw logging. That means most trees logged on public land in NSW could be eligible to be burnt in furnaces for electricity.

"With the current downturn international demand for native forest wood the logging industry is counting on electricity generation, of 'dead koala power,' as its lifeline. We are not just talking about feeding forest floor litter into the furnaces. If this plan goes ahead, any tree that is not good enough for the saw mills could be cut and burned for energy."

Australian Forests and Climate Alliance spokesperson Lorraine Bower said native forestry biomass was not a legitimate source of renewable energy: "Green house gas emissions from burning native forest electricity generation can be much greater than the equivalent-sized coal-fired power station.

"Claims that the proposal is consistent with the government's plans to increase renewable energy generation are misleading. This deeply flawed plan is being proposed in an attempt to prop up the collapsing woodchip market. Lifting the ban on burning forest biomass for electricity will put our forests and native wildlife at unacceptable risk — we cannot let this happen," she said.

If you like our work, become a supporter

Green Left is a vital social-change project and aims to make all content available online, without paywalls. With no corporate sponsors or advertising, we rely on support and donations from readers like you.

For just $5 per month get the Green Left digital edition in your inbox each week. For $10 per month get the above and the print edition delivered to your door. You can also add a donation to your support by choosing the solidarity option of $20 per month.

Freecall now on 1800 634 206 or follow the support link below to make a secure supporter payment or donation online.