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Report should spell the end of plans to burn forests for electricity

Plans to convert Redbank power station to burn wood for electricity have been dealt a major blow after a NSW Parliamentary inquiry recommended the practice be banned. [1]   

The Legislative Assembly Committee on Environment and Planning has concluded “forest biomass is not a renewable, sustainable source of energy” and has recommended changing the state’s environmental laws to rule it out as an option. 

Verdant Technologies plans to convert the former Redbank coal-fired power station near Singleton to burn wood from native forests and industry waste. 

While committee’s report does not name Verdant in its findings, the company’s plan to burn 1 million tonnes a year of forest biomass (trees) at the Redbank facility is the biggest project of its kind under consideration by the NSW Planning Department. 

The report recommends the NSW Government: 

… amends the definition of native forest biomaterial under the Protection of the Environment Operations (General) Regulation 2009 to prevent the burning of wood from native forests to generate energy.  

… works with other jurisdictions to exclude native forest biomass from being classed as renewable energy and ensure it is not eligible for renewable energy credits.  

“By some grotesque logic the burning of forests for electricity is designated as ‘renewable energy’ under both state and federal legislation,” Nature Conservation Council Chief Executive Chris Gambian said.  

“At last, a high-level report has exposed this as a fallacy. The truth is burning forest biomass for electricity destroys forests, kills wildlife and does nothing cut climate pollution. 

“We urge the government to urgently act on the committee’s recommendations.” 

Verdant Technology has applied to burn more than 1 million tonnes a year of biomass, including wood and wood waste from native forests, which will likely release more than 2 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere annually.   

“If this goes ahead it will accelerate and intensify the exploitation of native forests in NSW and push koalas and many threatened and critically endangered species closer to extinction,” Mr Gambian said. 

References 

[1] Sustainability of energy supply and resources in New South Wales, August 13, 2021. 

 

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