The campaign against the re-opening of the Redbank power station near Singleton continued this week with protesters lining Wollombi Road outside Sweetman's Timber at Millfield near Cessnock as part of the International Day of Action on Big Biomass.
New owners of the former family owned Sweetman's Timber, Sweetman Renewables Ltd, have plans to undertake a significant expansion to double the existing capacity of the sawmill.
According to Redbank Action Group the company want to develop the mill site into the base for a mega woodchip industry.
Those opposed to this development argue Sweetman Renewables plan to supply up to one million tonnes of woodchips to the Redbank Power Station, and also to kickstart the export of millions of tonnes of woodchips to Japan and Korea.
Redbank Action Group Convener Dave Burgess said "Burning forests for electricity is not renewable. It destroys koala habitat, destroys ecosystems and is more polluting than coal."
The power station re-opening plans to convert the facility from purely coal tailings to biomass products for generation is the subject of a NSW Land and Environment Court hearing earlier in December.
Redbank began producing coal powered electricity in 2001. In 2014 it ceased operations and was placed in the hands of the receivers Korda Mentha the station has been in care and maintenance ever since.
In May this year Hunter Energy executive officer, John Halkett said the conversion of Redbank to a biomass baseload facility was a major development in the Hunter Valley, with a wide range of economic and environmental benefits.
"These benefits include doing something meaningful and tangible in relation to tackling climate change; utilising wood waste that would otherwise finish up in landfill, and providing much needed base load renewable energy."
Protesters used the Day of Action to highlight the inevitable harms of biomass energy, already experienced overseas.
By raising awareness, it is possible to prevent Australia going down this destructive path. The Millfield action leads off a string of protests across Europe and America.
Millfield resident Llynda Nairn said "Trees are one of nature's most effective ways of capturing and storing carbon. It is madness to be burning them for electricity - either here or overseas."
Susie Russell, of the North Coast Environment Council said: "Burning biomass is bad for the climate. It damages our forests, their catchment values, biodiversity values, and undermines their ability to soak up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere."
A recent NSW parliamentary report, Sustainability of energy supply and resources in NSW, reached much the same conclusion, recommending 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.
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