Burning desires

The next big battle for Australia’s south east forests is to stop NSW’s Eden chipmill from burning woodchip logs to make electricity. Exchange rates are pricing their woodchips out of international woodchip markets, so plans are now afoot to create a “forest furnace”. It hopes to burn so-called “waste” for power and call it “renewable”.

Formerly called Diashowa, the SEFE mill has announced that by 2009 it intends to start generating power just to supply the town of Eden (hoping to get the locals on side). This first step may appear to be relatively benign, using plantation pine and native hardwood “waste”, but it’s just getting their foot in the door. Once the markets, subsidies and accreditation are stitched up, there’ll be no stopping them.

cartoon of smoking chimneysBut one thing they haven’t counted on is being able to sell the stuff to electricity retailers. Many are already refusing to accept power generated from native forest biomass.

In Victoria, TWS has been successful in getting commitments from most of the retailers in that state not to touch the stuff.

Between 2,500 and 3,000 trees from SE NSW and East Gippsland are cut down every working day to supply the Eden chipmill.

Harriet Swift, Chipstop

*Under the SEFE and Forestry NSW definition, anything on a log truck that drives to the export chipmill is “waste.”

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