Biomass

14 June 2021

Can you do one quick thing to show your opposition to burning trees for electricity?

The last thing the world needs now is to throw a lifeline to the dying woodchipping industry.

Write a short submissions to Singleton Council against the proposal to reopen Redbank Power Station.

  • Submissions close Monday the 21st June
  • Three or four paragraphs is enough.
  • Address your submission to the General Manager, Singleton Council and email to [email protected]

POINTS YOU CAN MAKE OPPOSING REDBANK

  • Burning a million tonnes of wood a year in a power stations is not clean, not green and not renewable.
  • There has been no information provided as to where the wood will come from.
  • If it comes from forests it will have dire consequence for threatened species such as the koala.
  • Burning wood emits more greenhouse gases than coal. The net impact on the atmosphere is more greenhouse gases not zero as claimed by the proponents.
  • Wood comes from trees that take decades to grow. The carbon released by burning the wood won't be taken up by growing trees for decades. Time we haven't got if we are to slow down runaway climate change.
  • This project will contribute strongly to dangerous climate change. Not only will it generate millions of tonnes of emissions, it will also drive deforestation. Forests are the best carbon, capture and storage technology that actually works.
  • What the Hunter Valley (and the world) needs is genuine renewable energy projects that will create sustainable long term jobs. This is another harmful project that will damage our environment not improve it.
  • Most of the jobs claimed by this proposal are in the cutting down and trucking of the trees.

Also, don't forget to clearly state "I/We object to DA183/1993.2 for the Redbank power station modification"


Background detail:

Hunter Energy intends to burn over 1 million tonnes per annum of biomass, including wood from native forests. It has lodged a Development Application modification with Singleton Council to reopen the 151MW powerplant. This will result in the release of more than 1.5 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere each year.

The company says it plans to source this biomass from an area up to 400 kilometres of Singleton, an area stretching from Moruya in the south, Yamba and Moree in the north, and Dubbo in the west. No specific details as to exactly where the wood is coming from have been provided but our coastal forests are in their sights.

A million tonnes annually is a lot of wood. This proposal ties in with the Forestry Corporation agenda to intensify logging with much of the coastal forests to be be clear-felled apart from the odd tree left for seed. This intensive logging will put additional stress on threatened species populations already facing extinction.

Koalas will be severely affected. Much of their habitat will be cleared as part of the intensive logging program. Coming after the Black Summer fires that wiped out more than half of the north coast population, this proposal could be the final nail in their coffin.

To the logging industry, forest residues or 'waste' are those trees not considered suitable for a sawlog. In Eden more than 90% of trees logged end up as woodchip, and this is called 'residues'.  

The proponent claims that biomass it is a renewable energy source which generates net-zero emissions. Wood biomass actually emits up to 50% more carbon dioxide (CO2) than coal when burnt, to generate the equivalent amount of energy. Carbon accounting classes burning wood as zero emissions in the energy sector, as trees are assumed to re-absorb the CO2 when they grow back. What isn't accounted for are the decades it takes for the trees to grow back. Time we don't have. This carbon accounting trick is strongly contested by scientists around the world.

The proponent claims it is “substantially the same project”, as when it burned coal. It is not. It will produce even more emissions and require many more truck movements over a much wider range. It will have a massive impact on forests and woodlands on public and private land, that fall within its wood catchment zone.

To see the documents on public exhibition you can see here.


A Forest is not a furnace!

Please sign on to our campaign to pledge your support and say no to native forests being burnt for dirty power.


November 2020

Urgent Action Needed To Stop Native Forest Biomass!

Koalas and much of NSW’s wildlife are on death row.

And yet, Hunter Energy has announced a new plan to restart their mothballed Redbank Power Station, fed by native forests to replace coal.

This desperate attempt to prop up a failing sector, will have dire consequences for NSW forests, many of which are only just beginning to recover from the Black Summer bushfires. 

If this goes ahead it further locks in industrialised logging of native forest ecosystems and the certain destruction of wildlife already advanced along the horrible path of no return.

If you live within 400km of Singleton your forests are under threat.

Please start to mobilise with your local community groups to say no to this dangerous proposal.

Claims that burning native forests is renewable energy is dangerous and false.  Biomass can emit up to 50% more CO2 than coal to generate equivalent amounts of energy, setting up Redbank to be one of the most polluting power stations in Australia.

We are in a climate and extinction emergency that requires us to reduce atmospheric carbon as soon as possible. This requires retaining every tree we can to take up and store carbon, not increasing logging and clearing to pump more into the atmosphere.

Further claims that the non-growing biomass in native forests is ‘waste’ fails to acknowledge the important ecological functions that tree crowns, ‘stags’, fallen dead trees and storm damaged vegetation provide for a diverse suite of native fauna.

All parts of a native forest provide essential ecological functions, especially for protecting water flows and quality, trapping and retaining sediment, stabilising soils, sequestering carbon and providing invaluable habitat for threatened species.


Rebooted Redbank Power Station an existential threat to our future

MEDIA RELEASE – 24 November 2020

The imminent rebooting of the mothballed Redbank Power Station (near Singleton) with north-east NSW’s forests will make it Australia’s most polluting power station and an existential threat to the future of our children and wildlife, according to the North East Forest Alliance.

Hunter Energy is currently seeking expressions of interest for timber from across north-east NSW to fuel their Redbank Power Station, with plans to restart the facility in mid 2021 fed by native forests to make it one of world’s ten biggest biomass power plants.

The claims are that it will power 200,000 homes, which was identified in 2017 North Coast Residues Report as requiring one million tonnes of biomass to be taken from north-east NSW’s forests and plantations each year, with 60% of this coming from private forests, said NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh.

“This is shear madness as burning this volume will release some 1.8 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere each year to fuel climate heating, increased droughts, heatwaves and more intense bushfires, while increasing forest degradation and hastening species extinctions.

“The community needs to urgently speak up to stop the NSW and Commonwealth Governments from allowing this environmental disaster” Mr. Pugh said.

“Replacing coal with biomass is sheer stupidity as it is even more polluting, releasing up to 50% more CO2 than coal to generate equivalent amounts of energy.

“Then there’s all the CO2 released by machines during logging and in hauling the wood from across north-east NSW to Singleton. 

“It will be a nightmare for rural communities with thousands of extra trucks plying narrow rural roads, crossing small deteriorating bridges, passing through peaceful villages and then roaring down the Pacific Highway to Redbank.

“This will be subsidized by taxpayers under the pretense that burning trees is renewable energy as the trees will regrow and decades or centuries later take up the carbon released by burning them.

“We are in a climate emergency and cannot afford to spew millions of tonnes of additional carbon into the atmosphere at a time when we need to be urgently reducing atmospheric carbon, and we need to leave our trees alive to do it as they are the only viable means of carbon capture and storage.

“Our suffering forest wildlife will be impacted most severely as forest degradation skyrockets with all those previously uneconomic trees taken.

“It is no wonder the Nationals tried to remove protection for core Koala habitat, environmental zones, wetlands and littoral rainforest, because they are going to need every tree they can get if this monstrosity gets going.

“Both NSW and Commonwealth Governments have systematically removed the numerous prohibitions on burning biomass from native forests for electricity generation to pave the way for this development, and the NSW Government has increased allowable logging intensities in forests to feed it.

“The NSW Government recently changed the logging rules for State Forests to reduce the number of trees that need to be retained by 50%, while zoning 140,000 hectares of public coastal forests from Grafton to Taree for clearfelling.

“Their draft logging rules for Private Native Forestry also intend to reduce the number of trees that need to be retained by 50%, while allowing 20% of the logging area to be clearfelled in each operation.

“These changes are all about allowing more trees to be logged as biomass for electricity generation.

“As both public and private forests are becoming increasingly devoid of large sawlogs the push is on to take smaller and defective trees to make money. 

“Biomass electricity is three times more expensive than solar to produce and requires massive public subsidies under the guise of its being renewable energy, so will effectively push up power prices for taxpayers.

“What we need to be doing is paying farmers to leave trees standing to go on sequestering and storing atmospheric carbon, while providing habitat for Koalas and our other imperiled species, not subsidizing corporations to profit from clearing, logging and burning them” Mr. Pugh said.


Burning native forest wood- sometimes referred to as biomass or bioenergy- is a big problem for our forests, catchments and the climate.

Unfortunately it's being heavily promoted, particularly in Asia, where both Japan and South Korea have huge wood-fired power stations. Australian forest companies recently sent a delegation to Japan, offering wood from our forests. It is this market that is driving serious intensification of logging in the forests of northern NSW.

Read this Fact Sheet about the issue and contact us if you want more information

Impacts of Using Native Forest Biomass for Energy

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