The NSW Legislative Council has today unanimously passed a motion (see text below) expressing its concerns over the growing push by industry to burn NSW native forests for electricity and hydrogen production.
The motion, moved by Independent NSW MP Justin Field, notes “increasing efforts” to open up NSW native forests for energy production. It asserts the House’s support for “the use of genuinely renewable and sustainable biomass” but raises “concerns about the potential impact on New South Wales native forests of expanding access to native forest biomaterials for the biomass to energy sector.”
Support for the motion comes on the International Day of Action on Big Biomass which has seen activists from Forest Defence NSW (see attached image) unfurl a banner at the Redbank Power Station near Singleton reading “Dead Koala Energy”. Power station owner Verdant Earth Technologies is currently fighting in the Land and Environment Court to burn around one million tonnes per year of native forests for electricity and hydrogen production.
Mr Field said of the unanimously-passed motion: “Native forest biomass is not renewable energy and is not “green” and I welcome the bipartisan support within the Parliament raising concerns about industries plans to burn and gassify native forests for energy.
“This is a warning signal to timber industry spruikers including those within the NSW Department of Primary Industries who are attempting to exploit the burgeoning hydrogen industry to create a new market for native forest wood chips. The Parliament is watching closely.”
The Legislative Council action follows a NSW Legislative Assembly Committee on Environment and Planning inquiry into the "Sustainability of energy supply and resources in New South Wales" which found in its bi-partisan August 2021 report that native forest biomass is not a renewable energy source.
In a separate speech to the Legislative Council earlier this week Mr Field exposed the corporate players and lobbyists trying to take advantage of the hydrogen hype in NSW by burning and gassifying native forests including “Verdant Earth Technologies” and “Sweetman Renewables”.
“The people of NSW do not want our precious native forests to be thrown in the furnace. NSW Parliament doesn’t either. It’s time for the Perrotet Government and Energy Minister and Treasurer Matt Kean to remove the legislative loopholes which continue to allow native forests to be burned for energy,” Mr Field said.
Today’s International Day of Action on #BigBadBiomass aims to raise global awareness about the importance of protecting forests as carbon storage, and to highlight the risks to native forests around the globe from the biomass industry, including their burning for electricity or for other energy production.
Text of the Motion that passed the Legislative Council
(1) That this House notes 21 October 2021 is the International Day of Action on Big Biomass which aims to raise global awareness about the importance of protecting forests as action on climate change and to highlight the risks to native forests around the globe from the biomass industry including their burning for electricity or for other energy production.
(2) That this House notes increasing efforts to open up the biomass to energy sector in New South Wales to burn native forest biomaterial for electricity production or use gasification technology to produce hydrogen.
(3) That this House notes that the recent bi-partisan report of the Legislative Assembly Committee on Environment and Planning found in its August 2021 report "Sustainability of energy supply and resources in New South Wales" that native forest biomass is not a renewable energy source.
(4) That this House supports the use of genuinely renewable and sustainable biomass from plantations and agricultural wastes for energy production in New South Wales but expresses its concerns about the potential impact on New South Wales native forests of expanding access to native forest biomaterials for the biomass to energy sector.