Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 2 Hansard (20 February) . . Page.. 442 ..
MS TUCKER (continuing):
As I said before, some 200,000 tonnes per annum of native forest will be consumed by this plant. The company says that all of the timber required will come from existing logging residue and that no trees will be felled for the sole purpose of charcoal production. However, this statement is extremely dubious. There are many reasons why a tree could be cut down where most or all of the tree would remain for use in the charcoal plant-for example, thinning operations. State Forests have introduced a puzzling tree category called "standing waste"-which would be used in the charcoal plant-that they apply to particular species or to trees that are not shaped well. Most people would consider standing waste to be perfectly good trees.
The amount of waste supposedly generated in the region from the cutting of quality sawlogs is extremely large. The regional forests agreement provides for some 45,000 square metres of quality sawlogs a year from the South Coast, which is equivalent to about 50,000 tonnes. This means that 200,000 tonnes a year of residue will supposedly be generated from 51,000 tonnes of sawlogs.
Of course, this is all additional to the 90,000 tonnes of so-called wood waste that was already going to be at Eden woodchip plant. This is a lot of so-called wood waste that is being taken out of the forest ecology. What this all means is that even more intensive industrial forestry and woodchipping operations will occur from Nowra to Narooma and out to Braidwood, Captains Flat and points south on Canberra's doorstep.
The forests to be strip mined include Monga, Buckenboura, Tallaganda, the unprotected Badja and Deua wilderness areas and the Clyde River catchment. The outcome of such operations is to turn the native forests in our region into de facto plantations, with huge damage to biodiversity and water catchments.
This destruction to our local forests can be avoided. There are potentially alternative methods of producing charcoal, most notably the use of low-ash coal. The CSIRO has developed technology to produce such coal from Australian coal deposits, and I understand that such coal could be imported from New Zealand.
However, the main driver of this proposal seems to be the need to find a new commercial use for the native forests on the South Coast now that the market for woodchips is declining with the increase in plantations in other countries. Yet again Australia is not acting like the clever country but treating our land like a quarry.
So there are many worrying aspects to this proposal, and I am very surprised that the government could not find any of these aspects of the proposal worthy of investigation and comment in its submission. I am therefore asking the government to go back and do a thorough analysis of this proposal and show some leadership on the issue of what is an appropriate form of sustainable economic development in this region, regardless of what their Labor friends in New South Wales want.
MR STANHOPE (Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Health, Minister for Community Affairs and Minister for Women) (5.57): Mr Speaker, the submission to the New South Wales government regarding the proposed charcoal production facility at Mogo on the South Coast clearly outlined the significant concerns raised by residents and representative groups within the ACT community.