Charcoal Lies Blacken Labor – Inquiry Needed?

Media Release 13 September 2002
Charcoal Lies Blacken Labor – Inquiry Needed?
Greens MLC Ian Cohen has called on the NSW Forest Minister Kim Yeadon , the Planning Minister Andrew Refshauge and Premier Bob Carr to explain why the timber supply contract for the controversial South Coast charcoal plant contradicts their repeated assertions that the plant will burn only logging ‘waste’.

The call comes on the eve of the Country Labor Conference at Cooma where at least one South Coast ALP Branch is expected to break ranks and attempt to move a motion against the charcoal plant.

‘The Timber Supply Agreement between State Forests and Australian Silicon clearly shows that the Government, through State Forests, has contracted to send whole logs to the plant, 200,000 tonnes of logs a year for 20 years.’ ( A copy of supply contract specification is attached )

‘This is directly contrary to the Ministers’ repeated assertion that the charcoal plant would merely burn forest logging ‘residues’ such as stumps and branches and that no trees would be felled for the charcoal plant.’

‘The present logging on the South Coast totals less than 200,000 tonnes a year from so called integrated logging operations, very intensive operations which typically see 60-70% of the trees felled going straight to the Eden woodchip plant.’

‘Forest ecologists and conservationists have never believed that State Forests could find another 200,000 tonnes a year from logging waste and the Government has now admitted that it is not environmentally responsible to burn logging waste as part of its recent ban on using native forests for power plant fuel supply’

‘The contract also specifies that there is no maximum restriction on log size except that logs more than 80cm in diameter must be cut into lengths no greater than 2.5 metres long! This and other specifications make it very clear that old growth trees and sawlog trees are scheduled to be woodchipped and burnt at the charcoal plant.’

‘It is now clear that an inquiry is needed into State Forests and their support of the timber industry’s plans to intensify native forest logging through charcoal production and ever more woodchipping, despite the dire environmental, social and economic consequences.’

‘I was only able to obtain the supply contract through a resolution on the floor of the Parliament. Even then, the Government tried to keep the contract secret from the general public by claiming that it was commercially confidential. Fortunately, Parliament has the right to an independent arbitrator in such circumstances and the distinguished jurist, Sir Laurence Street, has ruled that the public interest in disclosure was significantly greater than the Government’s claims of confidentiality.’

‘I am calling for a clear explanation from the Premier and these Ministers.’

‘However, I know that the public dismay and anger over forest destruction will not be satisfied until the Premier bans the use of native forests for charcoal and woodchips. The ALP’s South Coast seats are at risk in the next election over this issue.’

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