Chipmill pellet plant scrapped

Great news! The Eden chipmill has scrapped their plans to turn forests into pellets to fire up electricity furnaces (to run the world’s TVs and air conditioners).

wood pellets

The Eden export woodchip mill plan to convert our forests into fuel to burn for electricity has failed. Likewise its wind farm project and the pellet plant to process forests into tiny pellets to export elsewhere to burn, has been declared a big white elephant. Just before these all failed the Victorian Association of Forest Industries awarded the Eden woodchip mill a prize for its ‘environmental initiatives’.

VAFI CEO Lisa Marty said “SEFE’s initiatives showcase the innovative nature of our industry and the ways in which it continuously adapts to changing circumstances. Translated that means – now that the export woodchip market has slumped SEFE is extra clever at finding new excuses to knock down forests, Pity all have been financial fizzers. The chipmill’s future could now have a serious economic wobble.

Thanks to the great work by the SE conservation groups SERCA and Chipstop who kept the pressure on this one. It was admitted it was a financial fizzer. Hopefully this means the chipmill’s future has a serious economic wobble now. Below is Chipstops’ media release today (21.02.2013).

Bega Valley Shire Greens Councillor, Keith Hughes has confirmed that the controversial wood pellet plant at the Eden chipmill has closed.

Cr Hughes this week received an answer to a question in which he sought information about monitoring conditions of approval for the pellet plant. Official council advice was:

“SEFE has formally advised Council that the Pellet Plant was decommissioned on 19 December 2012 and is not operational at this time.”

The date, 19 December 2012 is coincidentally the same day on which South East Fibre Exports (SEFE) managers took part in a teleconference about the future of the chipmill with Japanese owners, Nippon Paper.

Chipstop Campaign convener, Harriett Swift has welcomed the news.

“The woodchipping industry has been counting on a cash flow from so-called “bio-energy” projects such as the pellet plant to ensure its future,” she said. “Woodchippers have looked to highly polluting energy from native forest wood to help lift it out of its current dire market situation”.

The pellet plant was the subject of a successful challenge in the Land and Environment Court in December 2011 and was only finally approved after a second referral to the Bega Valley Shire Council.

Ms Swift said that SEFE’s wood fired power station proposal was also withdrawn in November last year and the pellet plant closed in December.

“Without massive subsidies, even bigger than woodchipping has received, plans for an energy led recovery for the native forest logging industry now look like a pipe dream,” she said.

“Although wood pellets have taken off in other parts of the world, they have failed in Australia,” she said. “This is very good news for our native forests. Without the extra cash flow income that energy production might have provided, the woodchipping industry will be forced to face up to market realities and shut down,” she said.


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