Bega gathering says NO to "Dead Koala Power"
About 40 people from various parts of the far south coast held a rally in Bega today (Thursday 15th August) to oppose State Government plans to lift its current ban on burning native forest wood for electricity generation.
One of the organisers, Harriett Swift of the South East Region Conservation Alliance (SERCA) said that the event was held to complement similar actions at Parliament House, Sydney and Bellingen at the same time.
The draft regulation will allow the burning for electricity of any native tree that isn"t a sawlog.
"The threat of replacing the woodchipping industry with a wood fired energy industry has united forest campaign groups across the State," she said.
"The logging industry has admitted that it sees the regulation providing an alternative market for woodchip exports and is tantamount to a declaration of war on the koala in our region," Ms Swift said.
"Wood fired electricity is known in the industry as "dead koala power" and is not clean, green or renewable."
"Although the Government has claimed that only "waste" will be used, a careful reading of the draft regulation shows that in practice it could mean even more intensive logging than woodchipping. It is because it would allow some tree species not currently chipped to be burned.
"Importantly, some species that could be burned are important koala feed tree species such as red gum and woollybutt," she said.
Participants presented a petition to the office of Andrew Constance MP, the Finance Minister and Member for Bega from over 1,000 people opposing the new Draft Regulation. They also presented an article in a local newspaper from 2002 at a time when Mr Constance was an enthusiastic supporter of forest campaigners against a proposed charcoal plant at Mogo.
"Although in our region we have seen the proposed wood fired power station at the Eden chipmill mothballed because subsidies were not large enough, the woodchipping industry has been lobbying hard for this rule change and hold grave fears for the consequences if it goes ahead," she said.
15 August 2013
Contact: Harriett Swift 0414908997
 "Under these changes, tree heads and off cuts of trees cut for sawlogs or trees that might otherwise be made into pulp, can be burnt for electricity generation." http://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/epamedia/EPAMedia13071101.htm http://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/consult/index.htm
 The executive director of the NSW Forest Products Association, Russ Ainley has commented on the draft regulation, saying "the change just fixes the anomaly and [provides] an alternative market for woodchip exports"
96/ISSUE280.pdf - Timber and Forestry eNews 29 July 2013: 7
SAY NO TO "DEAD KOALA POWER" POWER. Sign the on-line petition at http://www.change.org/petitions/nsw-premier-and-ministers-please-retain-the-present-ban-on-burning-native-forests-for-electricity