Rally Held At Cessnock Against Burning Biomass

The Redbank Action Group held a rally in Cessnock today as part of International Day of Action on Big Biomass.

Dozens came out despite the weather to protest outside Hunter MP Dan Repacholi’s office against plans to ramp up the operations of Sweetmans Timber at Millfield.

The group says new owners, Verdant Earth Technologies, plans to expand the operation by double and send woodchips to the Redbank Power Station for electricity production, as well as export millions of tonnes to Japan and Korea.

The International Day of Action coincides with the Federal Government’s deadline for submissions on potential amendments to the eligibility of electricity generated from native forest biomass in the Renewable Energy Target. This follows years of concerns by environment groups that burning native forest biomass is not sustainable.

Nearby residents from Millfield, like Llynda Nairn are also worried what it could mean for their surrounds.

“If approved, the Redbank-Sweetmans proposal would see the native forests of the Hunter and well beyond turned into one big woodchip farm,” Llynda said.

“The new owners have been calling the mill Sweetman Renewable Timbers. If they think that, they are kidding themselves.”

Having once rejected the power station side of the proposal in 2021, Singleton Council successfully defended an appeal in the Land and Environment Court earlier this year.

Redbank Action Group spokesperson David Burgess said through the current process the Federal Government can legislate against the practice once and for all.

“With Verdant Earth Technologies’ proposal to burn the native forests of NSW right here in the Hunter at Redbank Power Station, supplied by the newly acquired Sweetmans sawmill at Millfield, there is no more important time to demand that the federal government rules out subsidizing this destruction,” said Mr Burgess.

“The NSW Government has also recommended against the burning of wood from native forests to generate energy, and that native forest biomass not be classed as renewable energy or eligible for renewable energy credits.”

“The alternative is a power station more polluting than coal, woodchipping a million tonnes of native forest a year, while pushing koalas and other species further towards extinction,” Mr Burgess said.

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