“No Charcoal” Rally Gathers Wide Support; Alarm at Threat to Woodchip and Burn South Coast Forests

South East Forest Alliance
The Wilderness Society
Media Release
5 April 2002

‘No Charcoal’ Rally Gathers Wide Support
Alarm at Threat To Woodchip and Burn South Coast Forests
The conservation groups organising the major ‘No Charcoal’ Rally on the Sydney Domain this Sunday, 7 April 2002, against the South Coast Charcoal Plant said today that the rally is gaining real momentum, with numerous groups from regional NSW sending contingents.

“We are heartened at the response with many groups, including from Wollongong, Nowra, Ulladulla, Milton, Lake Durras, Batemans Bay, Moruya, Narooma, Canberra, Queanbeyan, Moss Vale, Braidwood, Goulburn, Central Coast, Newcastle, north-east NSW and Armidale, all promising to attend,” said Noel Plumb and Glen Klatovsky, spokespersons for the groups. “There is great concern not only about the charcoal plant but also other new woodchipping and burning threats to the State’s forests.”

“It is clear that Sydney conservationists will also solidly support the rally, which will start with a concert at 1.00pm, with speakers from 2.00pm.”

“The forests of the South Coast, between Narooma and Nowra and out to Braidwood, are now under a huge new threat with a decision by the Carr Government only a few weeks away for a massive charcoal plant to be built on the South Coast at Mogo near Batemans Bay.”

“This appalling proposal will consume 200,000 tonnes a year of trees from the South Coast forests, to supply charcoal to a silicon plant at Lithgow. This is the same discredited, archaic attempt to rob and plunder the forests which was howled out of western NSW two years ago.”

“Amid enormous community uproar, the Premier ruled out logging the Goonoo and Pilliga forests for charcoal. These forests represent the last significant native forests left in north west NSW”

“Now the same company from Western Australia, an iron ore miner called Portman Limited under the name of Australian Silicon, is proposing to massively woodchip the South Coast forests for charcoal with the continued support of the Premier’s Strategic Projects Unit and the enthusiastic encouragement of NSW State Forests.”

“The South Coast charcoal woodchipping will directly threaten catchment values, the 150 existing sawmill jobs, the fishing industry, oyster growers and the 6200 jobs in the region which depend on nature based tourism, worth more than $700 million a year to the regional economy. In return the ‘forest miners’ are promising somewhere between 20 and 50 jobs for the smash and grab raid on our forests.”

“The charcoal plant will more than double the native forest logging in the region. There is already an environmentally unsustainable supply of up to 65,000 tonnes a year of woodchips to the Eden chip mill from the South Coast forests.”

“There has been no environmental or economic assessment of the threats to our South Coast forests and catchments by such a proposal. The limited assessment of the effects of the plant itself at its Bateman’s Bay site received the largest ever number of public submissions, over 1500, with more than 98% of submissions opposing the factory.

“The Government is essentially relying on conservation advice from NSW State Forests which was humiliated in western NSW just two years ago. This agency added to its long list of environmental disgraces and lack of credibility when its reports and recommendations supporting the western charcoal logging were rejected by the Government as unsustainable in the face of public outrage. The same agency is now saying that the South Coast charcoal logging is sustainable. They cannot be believed.”

“There is a growing public realisation and anger that, despite the expenditure of more than $100 million dollars of public funds on NSW regional forest assessments and consequent logging industry restructuring, the forests are under worse threat than ever and are still being brutally over-logged and woodchipped.

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