Owners of the now idle Redbank power station are hoping to convince the NSW government that replacing coal tailings with biomass is just what is needed to boost 'green' energy supply in the state.
Redbank located on the Golden Highway near Warkworth hasn't produced any power since October 2014 when the plant closed leaving 39 full-time employees out of work and was placed in the hands of receivers Korda Mentha.
The station's owners Hunter Energy now have plans to use timber from across north-east NSW to fuel their facility much to the dismay of conservationists.
Representatives of community groups held a protest at Redbank on Wednesday to highlight concerns that the station could be generating 1,000,000 MW of so called green baseload power later this year.
"This project is based on totally false premises'', said Redbank Action Group spokesperson Dave Burgess. "They claim that burning more than a million tonnes of wood a year will be carbon neutral. This is patently untrue. There will be 50,000 truck movements a year coming from up to 400km away and you have a very heavily polluting project."
The Department of Primary Industry estimates that this scheme would require burning about 1,250,000 tonnes of trees a year.
"This will result in millions of trees being cut down to satisfy its voracious appetite," said Tom Ferrier from No Electricity From Forests. "Those trees will include koala homes and habitat for dozens of animal species already vulnerable to extinction." "This is surely not the vision of a NSW renewable energy powerhouse that Energy and Environment Minister Matt Kean was thinking of when releasing the NSW renewable energy plan late last year. Hunter Energy has been secretive in its plans to restart Redbank attempting to have the whole project approved under the old development application.
"The Hunter Valley is on the path to what will be a difficult transition away from coal. It needs to be done in a transparent manner with genuinely sustainable jobs being created. The community deserves to know what's going on," Mr Burgess said.