Forest, wood, paper products industry groups urge Australian government not to amend existing regulations to exclude native forest biomass as an eligible renewable energy resource, say doing so would jeopardize planned projects

DUNEDIN, New Zealand , October 13, 2011 (press release) – The national and NSW forest, wood and paper products industry bodies, the Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) and NSW Forest Products Association (FPA) are hopeful common sense will prevail over the use of native forest woody biomass for green energy and its eligibility for renewable energy certificates under Australia’s renewable energy target scheme.

It is estimated there is enough woody biomass from forest industry activities in Australia to supply 3000 gigawatt hours of renewable energy per year from existing waste streams without harvesting a single extra tree. However, the recent proposal by the Australian Government to amend the existing regulations to exclude biomass from native forest as an eligible renewable energy resource will significantly jeopardise planned investments and innovation in green energy projects across the country, including in northern New South Wales.

AFPA CEO, Dr David Pollard, said the recent decision “is against accepted science and international practice in the use of woody biomass as a carbon neutral source of renewable energy, which is largely utilised in Europe and Scandinavia given their availability of extensive forest resources”.

The Executive Director of the NSW FPA, Russ Ainley, said many planned or existing projects in northern NSW that would now be significantly affected by the proposed ban on the use of native forest biomass. “These projects include the shelving of planned new investments in pyrolysis or cogeneration at Herons Creek, Murwillumbah and Kempsey, as well as considerable uncertainty over existing forest industry energy operations in Grafton and Smithtown,” he said.

Given these concerns, the industry has been encouraged by consultations with the local Member for Lyne and member of the federal multi-party climate change committee, the Hon Rob Oakeshott, who has been briefed on the shortcomings of the proposed ban and is seeking further information.

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