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MEDIA RELEASE           19 OCTOBER 2014            WWW.NOBIOMASS.COM

 MINISTER PROVIDES ANOTHER FIVE YEARS TO SET UP BIOMASS POWER PLANT IN FOOD BOWL

The Minister for Environment has provided a controversial failed biomass power plant project another five years to set up at Diamond Mill between Manjimup and Pemberton. Opponents say the Minister shows contempt for the iconic truffle industry and other food and wine producers in the ‘food bowl of the South West’ and has failed to conduct due diligence on the biomass company.

The Babcock and Brown led 40 megawatt biomass power plant project for Diamond Mill between Manjimup and Pemberton was given Ministerial authorisation to commence within five years in March 2009, which expired in March 2014. The Minister for Environment Albert Jacob has now provided Western Australia Biomass Pty Ltd another five years to set up, until March 2019, despite opposition from food and wine producers, and associated tourism interests

 

Spokesperson for the local Biomass Action Group, Neil Bartholomaeus said the biomass power plant would burn 380,000 tonnes of wood fuel a year in the heart of the food bowl of the South West and damage its vital clean and green image.

 

“It is very disappointing that after the Premier and his Cabinet visited Manjimup in September and talked up agriculture that Minister Jacob gives the controversial biomass power plant another five years to set up.

 

“When it comes to a test, the Barnett Government has failed to protect agriculture in Manjimup.

 

This large scale biomass power project would never be approved for Margaret River by the Barnett Government, yet the value of agricultural production of Manjimup is twice that of Margaret River.

 

“Minister Jacob has also failed to conduct due diligence on the commercial record of participants in Western Australia Biomass Pty Ltd; some major past and present shareholders of which are associated with a record of failures in the power generation industry and with biomass power plants in particular,” Mr Bartholomaeus said.

 

Mr Bartholomaeus said within months of the Ministerial authorisation in 2009 Babcock and Brown, who led Western Australia Biomass, bankrupted trashing billions in shareholder value. Since then Babcock and Brown’s partner, National Power based in Sydney, has led the biomass proposal. However, biomass power plants that National Power claims to have successfully developed in Queensland, in Western Australia at Manjimup and Albany, and in the US have either bankrupted or not developed.

 

“Western Australia Biomass failed to commence the project at Manjimup within the five years limit authorised in 2009 and yet the Minister disregards this failure in recommending the controversial project be allowed another five years to start up.

 

“Biomass power plants operated by National Power in Queensland and California have failed into disrepair and bankruptcy. The Minister also neglectfully ignores this record of failure.

 

“Biomass power plants are dud projects that can only operate with taxpayer subsidies for renewable energy credits. The Stanwell Corporation model biomass power plant at Rocky Point in Queensland lost 90% of its $50 million capital value in five years, and then bankrupted in 2012 under National Power’s operation.

 

“The serious problem for truffle and other food and wine producers is that the continuing threat of a polluting biomass power plant in their neighbourhood is a disincentive to further investment in agriculture.

 

“It has put a ‘buyer beware’ stamp on prime agricultural land between Manjimup and Pemberton,”

Mr Bartholomaeus said.

 

Mr Bartholomaeus expressed disappointment that local MLA Terry Redman didn’t stand up for agriculture and persuade the Minister for Environment not to give the biomass power plant a second chance.

 

Contact: Neil Bartholomaeus on 97724098, 0418102932, contact@nobiomass.com


MEDIA RELEASE           7 APRIL 2014          WWW.NOBIOMASS.COM

 EPA BREAKS OWN CONDITIONS FOR CONTROVERSIAL BIOMASS POWER PLANT IN FOOD BOWL 

The EPA is breaking a five year authorisation limit for a controversial biomass power plant based on an application from the proponent made after authorisation expired. Opponents say the biomass power plant is a nightmare project that could burn Karri forest for fuel in the heart of the food bowl of the South West and damage its vital clean and green image.

 

The Babcock and Brown led 40 megawatt biomass power plant project for Diamond Mill between Manjimup and Pemberton was given Ministerial authorisation for five years on 13 March 2009 which expired on 13 March 2014. The Manjimup and Pemberton based Biomass Action Group wrote to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) on 14 March 2014 to confirm the Ministerial authorisation had expired and have been told that the project proponents had written to the EPA on 24 March 2014 seeking an extension to the five year authorisation period. 

Spokesperson for the Biomass Action Group, Neil Bartholomaeus said a letter to the Group from the EPA claiming “…Western Australia Biomass Pty Ltd. has continued to progress the development and implementation of its proposal.” suggests gross lack of due diligence by the EPA.

Mr Bartholomaeus said within months of the Ministerial authorisation in 2009 the Babcock and Brown group were bankrupt. Since then Babcock and Brown’s partner National Power has led the proposal. However, biomass power plants that National Power claims to have successfully developed in Queensland, Western Australia at Manjimup and Albany, and the US have either bankrupted or not developed.

 

The Biomass Action Group has released the letter from the EPA and the Group’s reply to the EPA which says:

 

  • The Ministerial authorisation was unequivocal with a simple test for compliance being written evidence that the proposal had substantially commenced on or before the expiration of the five year authorisation, mere progress was not acceptable.
  • By any reasonable interpretation the term ‘substantially commenced’ demands material evidence of site works and construction for a project of this type.
  •  Mere ‘progress’ was not a term used in the Ministerial authorisation but was suggested by the EPA as acceptable, when it is not
  • While some Ministerial authorisations for projects allowed for applications for extension of time during the authorisation period, no such condition for extension of time was in the Ministerial authorisation for the biomass power plant.
  • Where Ministerial authorisations provided for application for extension of time, the application was still required to be made within the initial period of authorisation.
  • The application for an extension of time in this instance was beyond any condition permitting it and after expiry of the five year authorisation period.

 

Since the Ministerial authorisation was given for the Babcock and Brown led biomass power plant at Manjimup, the State Government through Royalties for Regions has promoted the area as the ‘food bowl of the South West’, including a grant of several million for a Southern Forests Food Council.

 

The renewed threat of the polluting 40 megawatt biomass power plant will put a dark cloud over the ‘clean and green image’ being promoted for the Southern Forests,

 

"This stinking biomass power project would never be approved for Margaret River, yet the value of agricultural production of Manjimup is twice that of Margaret River," Mr Bartholomaeus said.

 

Mr Bartholomaeus said the Group had written to the Minister for the Environment requesting he adhere to the Ministerial conditions for authorisation and determine the biomass power plant project proposed at Manjimup is lapsed and void. 

Contact: Neil Bartholomaeus on 97724098, 0418102932, contact@nobiomass.com


MEDIA RELEASE           17 DECEMBER 2012          WWW.NOBIOMASS.COM

 BIOMASS POWER PLANT LICENCE EXTENDED FOR THREE YEARS

The works approval licence for a controversial biomass power plant at Diamond Mill between Manjimup and Pemberton has been extended for three years by the Department of Environment and Conservation. The licence extension is two and a half years beyond the period for which the project has Environmental Protection Authority approval. Opponents of the biomass power plant want the Minister for Environment to limit the works approval licence to the project approval time frame.

When the 40 megawatt biomass power plant was approved by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) in July 2008 the EPA applied a condition that the EPA approval would lapse and be void if the project hadn’t commenced by July 2013. However, this month the Department of Conservation and Environment (DEC) has amended the works approval licence through to December 2015. 

Opponents of the biomass power plant at Diamond Mill between Manjimup and Pemberton say the works approval licence extended by DEC should only apply to July 2013 to align with the time frame for EPA approval of the project.

Neil Bartholomaeus, spokesperson for the Biomass Action Group said the biomass power plant should never have been approved in the middle of the ‘food bowl of the South West’ and had been strongly opposed by food and wine producers.

“The biomass power plant was likened by food producers to putting a toilet in the middle of a kitchen.

“The threat of the biomass power plant has damaged property values between Manjimup and Pemberton and inhibited further investment in agriculture and tourism.

“Withdrawal of EPA approval for this stinker of a project can’t come soon enough,” Mr Bartholomaeus said.

 Mr Bartholomaeus said the Environmental Protection Act doesn’t set the duration of works approvals and licences to operate and thus there was no reason why DEC couldn’t align the works approval licence with the EPA approval through to July 2013.

“We are concerned DEC has a conflict of interest because they have suggested burning of karri in the biomass power plant.

“We are asking the Liberal candidate for Warren-Blackwood, Ray Colyer, to request the Minister for Environment direct DEC to limit the works approval licence to July 2013.

“Mr Colyer is also the President of the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River and would appreciate that such a 40 megawatt biomass power plant would never be approved amongst the vineyards and chalets at Margaret River.

“Mr Colyer can champion protection of the ‘food bowl of the South West’ and he will regain the support of the electors that voted against Wade DeCampo on the biomass power plant at the last State Election, Mr Bartholomaeus said.

Mr Bartholomaeus said the DEC works approval licence absurdly referred to Babcock and Brown as a company that has developed and financed power plants in Australia and around the world when in fact they have gone broke with $10 billion in debts and losses. He said the misconceived biomass power plant pushed by corporate cowboys must be wound up by the EPA in July 2013.

Contact: Neil Bartholomaeus on 97724098, 0418102932, contact@nobiomass.com


MEDIA RELEASE           29 MARCH 2012          WWW.NOBIOMASS.COM

 SUPPORT FOR ALP POLICY TO STOP BURNING NATIVE FORESTS FOR ELECTRICITY

The Biomass Action Group opposing a 40 megawatt biomass power plant at Diamond Mill between Manjimup and Pemberton has welcomed the announcement that a future WA Labor Government would legislate to ban the clear felling of native forests to provide fuel for the generation of electricity.

Neil Bartholomaeus, spokesperson for the Biomass Action Group, said the immediate benefit for native forests in WA from the new ALP policy was to challenge a State Government tender that closed last week calling for interest in burning up to 800,000 tonnes a year of karri, jarrah and marri logs in biomass power plants.

“The Barnett Government made a massive volume of native forest logs available for biomass power plants, reflecting a desperate last stand for a timber industry that has overcut State forest for too long.

“Our native forests are unique and precious; it is irrational to burn them for electricity while at the same time WA exports millions of tonnes of relatively clean natural gas that can generate electricity.

“Without this announcement by the State ALP and recent action in the Federal Parliament to stop subsidies for burning native forest for electricity, we were concerned the dormant Diamond Mill Biomass Power Plant would switch to burning Karri logs from nearby clear felling of Karri forest.

“This would be devastating for the remnants of the Karri forest, and damaging for the ‘clean and green image’ of food and wine producers concerned about air pollution in the area regarded as the food bowl of the South West,” Mr Bartholomaeus said.

Mr Bartholomaeus said the Karri forest was a major issue in the election of the Gallop Labor Government in 2001; in an election the Court Government didn’t expect to lose. The campaign for Karri even evoked ‘Liberals for Forests’ who won the blue ribbon Liberal seat of Alfred Cove.

“If the Liberals and Nationals think the public support a slash and burn approach to native forests, they are backing the wrong horse. Slash and burn has run its destructive race and is commercially defunct,” Mr Bartholomaeus said.

Contact: Neil Bartholomaeus on 97724098, 0418102932, contact@nobiomass.com


MEDIA RELEASE           23 MARCH 2012          WWW.NOBIOMASS.COM

 FEDERAL PARLIAMENT REPRIEVE FOR KARRI, JARRAH AND MARRI FOREST

A WA Government tender for up to 800,000 tonnes a year of karri, jarrah and marri logs to be burnt in biomass power plants was torched by the Federal Parliament this week as it blocked taxpayer subsidies for electricity generation from native forests. The Biomass Action Group opposing a 40 megawatt biomass power plant at Diamond Mill between Manjimup and Pemberton has welcomed the Federal Parliament’s decision and say it is in step with the interests of most Australians.

Neil Bartholomaeus, spokesperson for the Biomass Action Group, said the immediate benefit for native forests in WA of the Federal Parliament’s decision was to torch a State Government tender that closed on Wednesday calling for interest in burning up to 800,000 tonnes a year of karri, jarrah and marri logs in biomass power plants.

“Opportunistic tenderers would be commercially crazy to proceed with biomass power plants now the subsidies from Renewable Energy Certificates have been removed.

“The State Government tender for 800,000 tonnes of karri, jarrah and marri logs exposed the fallacy in the recent debate that so called ‘waste and residue’ for biomass power plants is offcuts and branches otherwise left in logging areas.

“The State Government must leave this massive volume of tree trunks standing proudly in our forests where they will provide much greater returns to the public interest,” Mr Bartholomaeus said.

Mr Bartholomaeus said most Australians consider it disgusting that unique native forest be burnt for electricity when the remaining forests are our natural allies in responding to the huge challenge of climate change.

“It is deeply disturbing that the Coalition said during the Parliamentary debate on Monday that it will re-introduce subsidies to burn native forests in biomass power plants if they win the next Federal Election  

“If the Liberals and Nationals think the public support the timber industry’s slash and burn approach to native forests, they are backing the wrong horse. ‘Slash and Burn’ has run its destructive race and is commercially defunct,” Mr Bartholomaeus said.

Mr Bartholomaeus dismissed claims of the Minister for Forestry, Terry Redman that bio-energy companies will be disappointed they can’t be subsidised to burn the karri, jarrah and marri forest.

“It appears Terry Redman and the bankrupt Forests Products Commission were hoping the subsidised bio-energy companies would hop into the 800,000 tonnes per annum of karri, jarrah and marri logs like big brown dogs into a pie cart,” Mr Bartholomaeus said.

Contact: Neil Bartholomaeus on 97724098, 0418102932, contact@nobiomass.com


MEDIA RELEASE           16 MARCH 2009          WWW.NOBIOMASS.COM 

OPPONENTS SAY MINISTER FOR ENVIRONMENT SHOWS DISRESPECT FOR MANJIMUP AND PEMBERTON
BY APPROVING BIOMASS POWER PLANT  

Opponents of the 40MW biomass power plant proposed for Diamond Mill between Manjimup and Pemberton say the Minister for Environment has shown disrespect for the food bowl of the South West and karri forest based tourism by approving the proposed biomass power plant, but the collapse of the Babcock and Brown group means the project is now a dud and plantation wood fuel contracts should be used elsewhere instead of using native forest as fuel for biomass power. 

Spokesperson for the Biomass Action Group, Neil Bartholomaeus said the biomass power plant had been opposed by leaders in wine, fruit, vegetable, truffle, tea and other agricultural production in WA with businesses located in Manjimup and Pemberton near the proposed biomass power plant, but the Minister had shown disrespect for these leaders in their business areas. 

“We doubt the Minister would approve a similar biomass power plant in the Margaret River Wine Region, but she doesn’t care about the Pemberton Wine Region and the producers of premium wines that rely upon maintenance of the clean green image a biomass power plant will damage. 

“We doubt the Minister would approve a biomass power project that would put 380,000 tonnes a year of wood heavy haulage onto Caves Road in Margaret River, but she has approved the project for Manjimup which will increase wood haulage on the already dangerous South West Highway which is the main tourist route to the karri forests surrounding Pemberton, and to the Tree Top Walk at Walpole. 

“The magnificent Manjimup and Pemberton area has for too long been in the shadow of Margaret River for tourism and the Minister’s approval of this 40MW biomass power plant between Manjimup and Pemberton will ensure it stays that way,” Mr Bartholomaeus said. 

Mr Bartholomaeus said that irrespective of the Minister for the Environment’s approval of the project, a Forest Lease to locate the project at Diamond Mill was still required to be approved by the Conservation Commission. 

“We have made a detailed submission to the Conservation Commission opposing the granting of a forest lease for this project at Diamond Mill based on Tasmanian bluegum and pine fuel from up to 100 kilometers away, and the Commission recently advised us they are considering our submission. 

“It is an opportunistic attempt to locate a biomass power plant on public lands, rather than in a designated industrial estate on private land, and the Conservation Commission must reject the application for a Forest Lease; if they approve it, we will seek disallowance of the lease in State Parliament,” Mr Bartholomaeus said.  

Mr Bartholomaeus said that with the financial collapse of the Babcock and Brown group of companies, it was unlikely any bank will lend to a project that Babcock and Brown, in any form, are associated with, and the project was unlikely to proceed. 

“We will continue to oppose any proposal for a 40MW biomass power at Diamond Mill if Babcock and Brown try to sell the approved project. 

“Babcock and Brown, through Western Australia Biomass Pty Ltd, have contracts with the Forest Products Commission and others for 380,000 tonnes per annum of pine and Tasmanian bluegum fuel for the biomass power plant at Diamond Mill; those contracts should now be released and offered to Griffin Energy to use in their Bluewaters Power Station at Collie, rather than jarrah and other native forest timber the FPC are offering to Griffin to burn as fuel,” Mr Bartholomaeus said. 

Contact: Neil Bartholomaeus on 97724098, 0418910289, contact@nobiomass.com

MEDIA RELEASE           30 JANUARY 2009          WWW.NOBIOMASS.COM 

MINISTER FOR ENVIRONMENT AND CONSERVATION COMMISSION ASKED TO OPPOSE A FOREST LEASE FOR BIOMASS POWER PLANT AT DIAMOND MILL 

Opponents of the 40MW biomass power plant proposed for Diamond Mill between Manjimup and Pemberton have written to the Minister for Environment and the Conservation Commission to express opposition to the granting of a required Forest Lease to enable location of the proposed biomass power plant in State forest at Diamond Mill. They say the biomass power plant does not meet the public interest tests required to be satisfied to allow an electricity power plant to be located in State forest.  

Spokesperson for the Biomass Action Group, Neil Bartholomaeus said that after lobbying by the Shire of Manjimup and Babcock and Brown in October 2007, the Carpenter Government introduced a regulation in February 2008 to enable the biomass power plant at Diamond Mill; however, the Group says the project still doesn’t meet the requirements of the regulation. 

“After the Shire of Manjimup secretly invited Babcock and Brown to locate a biomass power plant at Diamond Mill, both parties found the project had questionable legal status to be at Diamond Mill so they lobbied the former State Government which introduced a new regulation with the intent of immediately favouring the project. 

“When the former Government was asked in Parliament and in letters in early 2008 about the new enabling regulation they acted dumb; however, the Appeals Convenor, in his report to the new Minister for Environment identified the regulation and that the proponents were trying to use it to obtain a Forest Lease at Diamond Mill. 

“We have written to the Minister for Environment asking her to repeal this bad law that was shrouded in secrecy when introduced and to refuse a Forest Lease for the biomass power plant. 

“Our letter to the Conservation Commission, that advises the Minister, submits that the application made for a Forest Lease for the biomass power plant fails the public interest test embodied in the new regulation and raises inconsistency between various purposes for which State forest is reserved and thus should be declined by the Commission. 

“We submit it is against the public interest to opportunistically locate the biomass power plant in State karri forest at Diamond Mill when there are designated industrial sites closer to the Tasmanian bluegum and pine fuel resource 70 to 100 kilometers away, which have been identified in the Warren-Blackwood Region Industrial Sites Study’ of 2007 and also established near Bunbury. 

“The South West Highway through Manjimup is the main tourist access to Pemberton and Walpole and the National Parks and Conservation Reserves that showcase the karri forest, southern forest and coast; including access to the popular Tree Top Walk. Tourists on single lane roads are daunted by wood haulage B-double vehicles 40 times the mass of their sedan and are deterred from return visits which are vital to the viability of tourist-related businesses and thus to the economic justification for conservation of forest and other natural areas. 

“Granting a Forest Lease for location of a biomass power plant on the South West Highway between Manjimup and Pemberton, requiring delivery of 380,000 tonnes of biomass fuel via public roads which are tourist routes, is inconsistent with other purposes – recreation and tourism related to conservation - for which State forest is reserved and is contrary to the provisions of the regulation which requires there be no inconsistencies between purposes for which forest is reserved when granting a Forest Lease,” Mr Bartholomaeus said. 

Mr Bartholomaeus said the Minister for the Environment and the Conservation Commission should be very cautious in considering the application for a Forest Lease under the new dodgy regulation because any Forest Lease granted will be subject of disallowance in State Parliament.  

Contact: Neil Bartholomaeus on 97724098, 0418910289, contact@nobiomass.com

MEDIA RELEASE           11 AUGUST 2008          WWW.NOBIOMASS.COM 

BIOMASS POWER PLANT THREATENS LOCAL JOBS  IN AGRICULTURE AND TOURISM 

Opponents of the biomass power plant proposed for Diamond Mill between Manjimup and Pemberton have hit back at claims by the Manjimup shire president their opposition will prevent new jobs, saying instead the power plant threatens many more existing and future local jobs in agriculture and tourism. 

Appeals to the Minister for Environment against the proposal at Diamond Mill say that plantation waste should be transported from a promised rail terminus at Greenbushes to fuel a biomass power plant at either the Picton Enterprise Park or Kemerton Industrial Estate near Bunbury. 

Spokesperson for the Biomass Action Group, Neil Bartholomaeus, responding to criticism from Manjimup shire president Wade De Campo, said perceptions of pollution from a 40MW power plant at Diamond Mill could damage the clean and green image of agriculture and an additional 380,000 tonnes of wood fuel heavy haulage on the South West Highway will deter tourists from return visits. 

“The 20 jobs at the proposed biomass power plant contrast with 600 jobs at threat in the Pemberton Wine Region if the region loses its clean and green image, plus jobs associated with fruit and vegetables, and the new black truffle industry.

 “There is also a major green tea industry poised to boost the local economy, but it is unlikely there will be the required investment in a green tea processing plant with the threat of harm to a vital clean and green image from a 40MW power plant.

 “The exciting black truffle industry in Manjimup is receiving wide media attention and attracting tourists to add to established wine-related tourism in the Pemberton region; they and other agribusinesses were not consulted before the Shire of Manjimup invited the biomass power plant proponent to Diamond Mill.

 “The first priority of the Minister for the Environment should be to protect the many existing jobs in agriculture and tourism at risk from a power plant at Diamond Mill,” Mr Bartholomaeus said.

 Mr Bartholomaeus said he was concerned Mr De Campo may have a bias towards trucking rather than supporting biomass fuel transportation to Picton near Bunbury by rail from the promised truck to rail terminus at Greenbushes.

 “Greenbushes is at the centre of the Tasmanian bluegum and pine plantations whereas Diamond Mill is 70 kilometres further south along the South West Highway in the Karri forest.

 “The public environmental review for the biomass power plant proposed for Diamond Mill says 95% of the Tasmanian bluegum and pine fuel is from north of Diamond Mill, including from north, east and west of Bridgetown.

 “It is in the interest of all shires along the South West Highway south of Bunbury to push for the rail terminus at Greenbushes to reduce the dangerous level of wood heavy haulage on the Highway.

 "Tourists in sedans experiencing near misses and cracked windscreens from wood haulage trucks forty times their size will not return to Pemberton, Manjimup and Bridgetown, they will go to Margaret River instead,” Mr Bartholomaeus said.

 Contact: Neil Bartholomaeus on 97724098, 0418910289, contact@nobiomass.com


MEDIA RELEASE           30 JULY 2008          WWW.NOBIOMASS.COM 

PICTON OR KEMERTON INDUSTRIAL AREAS MORE SUITABLE THAN
 WARREN-BLACKWOOD REGION FOR BIOMASS POWER PLANT 

Opponents of the biomass power plant proposed for Diamond Mill between Manjimup and Pemberton have suggested in appeals to the Minister for Environment that plantation waste to fuel a biomass power plant be transported by rail to either the Picton Enterprise Park or Kemerton Industrial Estate near Bunbury. 

Spokesperson for the Biomass Action Group opposing the proposed biomass power plant at Diamond Mill, Neil Bartholomaeus, said he and others had made appeals to the Appeals Convenor providing grounds that made Diamond Mill unsuitable, and given the district industrial estates at Manjimup, Hester and North Greenbushes are not prepared to host a 40MW power plant, the proponent should be directed to the established major industrial estates at Picton and Kemerton. 

“The wood industry is treating the State Government with contempt by delaying the truck to rail transport node at North Greenbushes which was supposed to be set up after the Bunbury to Diamond Mill railway line was shut down and the woodchip industry moved transport onto public roads. 

“The State Government must force the wood industry to establish the node and re-open the railway line from Bunbury to North Greenbushes; which could carry timber, woodchips and plantation waste for a biomass power plant. 

“The proponent of the biomass power plant has pursued its own commercial interests at three proposed sites in the Warren-Blackwood region, each of which are unsuitable; now it is time for the Minister for the Environment to suggest they consider an established industrial estate of suitable capacity outside of the Warren-Blackwood region,” Mr Bartholomaeus said. 

“The EPA has correctly ruled out use of Karri and Marri to fuel the power plant proposed for Diamond Mill, and our appeals claim it is unsafe to haul 380,000 tones of Tasmanian bluegum and pine from 50 to 100 kilometers away along public roads to Diamond Mill. 

“The only possible justification for use of Diamond Mill would be to access Karri and Marri to fuel a biomass power plant; now that has been appropriately ruled out there is no justification for a biomass power plant at Diamond Mill,” Mr Bartholomaeus said. 

Mr Bartholomaeus said appeals also demonstrated that locating a 40MW biomass power plant at Diamond Mill would conflict with the Warren-Blackwood Rural Strategy (2004), the Warren-Blackwood Region Industrial Sites Study (2007) and proclamations of water reserves under the Country Areas Water Supply Act 1947. 

The Warren-Blackwood Rural Strategy designated the land between Manjimup and Pemberton as priority agriculture which should be protected from incompatible land uses, such as an electric power station requiring up to a 5 kilometre buffer zone. 

The Warren-Blackwood Region Industrial Sites Study recommended against Diamond Mill for industrial expansion and has instead identified North Greenbushes, Manjimup and Hester near Bridgetown as district industrial estates, and Yornup as a potential regional industrial estate. 

“The reality is the Warren-Blackwood Region Industrial Sites Study is being ignored by local governments even though there is industry expansion potential at North Greenbushes, Manjimup and Hester. 

“Setting up proper industrial estates in the Warren-Blackwood region may be too hard for the local governments, therefore the State Government should suggest heavy industry, such as a 40MW biomass power plant, be located outside of Warren-Blackwood,” Mr Bartholomaeus said. 

Contact: Neil Bartholomaeus on 97724098, 0418910289, contact@nobiomass.com

MEDIA RELEASE           9 JULY 2008          WWW.NOBIOMASS.COM 

EPA RECOMMENDATIONS ON BIOMASS POWER PLANT
WILL BE APPEALED BY OPPONENTS   

Spokesperson for the Biomass Action Group opposing the proposed biomass power plant at Diamond Mill, Neil Bartholomaeus, said he and others would be making appeals to the Appeals Convenor in regard to the recommendations of the EPA on the power plant. 

He said it would be wrong for the Minister for the Environment to support the Diamond Mill site between Manjimup and Pemberton when the Western Australian Planning Commission had identified it wasn’t suitable for industrial expansion because of potential conflict with agriculture, and had identified alternative district industrial estates for new industry. 

Mr Bartholomaeus said the WA Planning Commission ‘Warren-Blackwood Region Industrial Sites Study’ of July 2007 found:

·         use of Diamond Mill as an industrial site could conflict with the objective of protecting prime agricultural land,

·         that North Greenbushes, Manjimup and Hester near Bridgetown have industrial expansion potential and that these sites provide the short-medium term opportunities for sub-regional industries and are classified as district industrial estates, and

·         there was considerable potential for the Manjimup industrial estate to expand. 

‘It makes no sense to haul 380,000 tonnes of Tasmanian bluegum and pine wood fuel annually for 25 years along unsafe public roads to Diamond Mill south of Manjimup when the wood resource is closer to Bridgetown and North Greenbushes.

‘We understand the EPA must assess a proposal as it is presented, but now it is time for the Minister for the Environment to direct the project to an appropriate industrial site closer to the Tasmanian bluegum and pine resource,” Mr Bartholomaeus said. 

Mr Bartholomaeus said there were also at least two other problems with the Diamond Mill site: 

“Surrounding farming families were dependent on rain water tanks and the best the Department of Health has to offer is that the company operating the power plant will monitor rainwater tanks for hazardous polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.  

“It is most unlikely that if pollution of rainwater tanks occurs the company will shut down a $110 million plus power plant; it is more likely farming families will be driven from their land in the food bowl of the South West,” he said. 

Mr Bartholomaeus said it was highly significant that the Department of Water continued to oppose the location of a new power plant at Diamond Mill in the Warren River Water Reserve, proclaimed under the Country Areas Water Supply Act 1947 as a likely future drinking water source. The Department of Water had suggested in their submission to the EPA the biomass power plant be located north of Bridgetown. 

Contact: Neil Bartholomaeus on 97724098, 0418910289, contact@nobiomass.com


MEDIA RELEASE           24 MAY 2008          WWW.NOBIOMASS.COM 

BURNING KARRI FOREST FOR RENEWABLE ENERGY
 WILL DRIVE CONSUMERS AWAY FROM SYNERGY GREEN POWER
 

The announcement this week by the Minister for Energy of Perth’s ‘greenest’ suburbs has been met by a warning from conservationists that burning the Karri forest for fuel for a proposed biomass power plant at Diamond Mill near Manjimup will drive concerned consumers away from accredited renewable energy or ‘green power’. 

White Gum Valley, West Leederville and Shenton Park were the greenest suburbs calculated from the number of customers purchasing accredited renewable energy as a proportion of households in each suburb. Margaret River and Denmark were the greenest towns beyond Perth. 

Spokesperson for the Biomass Action Group, Neil Bartholomaeus said the Minister for Forestry told State Parliament in November 2007 that Karri, Jarrah and Marri ‘forest residue’ and ‘forest waste’ will be offered to renewable energy markets.  

“These ‘forest residue’ and ‘forest waste’ terms are precisely the same terms that were used to justify the notorious 'Marri Woodchip Project', where Marri was described as residue and waste from clear felling, and native forest near Manjimup and Pemberton was squandered as wood chips. 

“Diamond Mill is the location where millions of tonnes of Karri and Marri trees were reduced to woodchips for export, which was bitterly opposed by conservationists from the 1970s until restructure of the timber industry in 2001 by the Gallop Government,’ he said. 

Mr Bartholomaeus said while the present biomass power plant proposal before the EPA doesn’t refer to Karri, Jarrah and Marri as fuel, information obtained under the Freedom of Information Act showed the Department of Environment and Conservation in October 2007 suggested the use of Karri for the biomass power plant at Diamond Mill, and this aligns with answers to questions in Parliament and the 2007 Annual Report of the Forest Products Commission all indicating use of Karri, Jarrah and Marri for biomass power generation. 

“We believe the proposed biomass power plant at Diamond Mill based on Tasmanian bluegum and pine is a ‘Trojan horse’ that will lead to an assault on the Karri forest as an energy resource, causing justifiable public opposition. 

“In February 2008 we sought an assurance from the Premier that he won’t allow the Minister for Forestry and the Forest Products Commission to offer Karri, Jarrah and Marri to this or any other biomass power plant, but he has not given that assurance. 

“Far from the Premier ruling Karri out as fuel for the proposed biomass power plant, a letter we received from the Premier’s office in April 2008 opens the way for the Karri forest to be burnt as ‘green power’ with the Premier’s office saying it will ‘…allow utilisation of presently unsaleable residue materials.’ 

“We believe the Carpenter Government wants to keep secret the plans to burn the Karri forest for ‘green power’ until after the State Election, because they know the concept is abhorrent to the many people who care for the Karri forest,” Mr Bartholomaeus said. 

Mr Bartholomaeus urged ‘green power’ customers of Synergy to seek a written assurance from Synergy that under no circumstances would Karri, Jarrah and Marri be accepted as fuel for accredited renewable energy. 

For further information contact Neil Bartholomaeus on 97724098 or contact@nobiomass.com  

Reference: Minister for Energy 18 May 2008 - Perth’s ‘greenest’ suburbs:

http://www.mediastatements.wa.gov.au/Pages/CurrentMinistersSearch.aspx?ItemId=130215&minister=Logan&admin=Carpenter


MEDIA RELEASE           31 MARCH 2008          WWW.NOBIOMASS.COM 

BUSINESSES PUT STATE GOVERNMENT ON NOTICE FOR COMPENSATION
 OVER DIAMOND MILL SITE FOR BIOMASS POWER PLANT  

Vineyards, fruit, vegetable and marron growers have put the State Government on notice for compensation if their businesses are damaged by pollution from a proposed biomass power plant at Diamond Mill near Manjimup. They say the WA Planning Commission doesn’t regard Diamond Mill as an industrial site and if the State Government approves a biomass power plant at the site it would be negligent and exposed to legal action. 

Businesses associated with the Biomass Action Group, who oppose the biomass power plant at Diamond Mill, have written to the Minister for the Environment, David Templeman asking what public benefit basis the Minister has for introducing a regulation to enable use of the site and warning of legal action if their businesses are damaged.  

The letter to the Minister for the Environment says the WA Planning Commission ‘Warren-Blackwood Region Industrial Sites Study’ of July 2007 found:

·      use of Diamond Mill as an industrial site could conflict with the objective of protecting prime agricultural land,

·      that North Greenbushes, Manjimup and Hester have industrial expansion potential and that these sites provide the short-medium term opportunities for sub-regional industries and are classified as district industrial estates, and

·       there was considerable potential for the Manjimup industrial estate to expand.

Spokesperson for the Biomass Action Group, Neil Bartholomaeus said the Minister for Environment would be negligent in his responsibilities if he made the Diamond Mill site in State Forest available to the biomass power plant when the WA Planning Commission had identified it wasn’t suitable for industrial expansion because of potential conflict with agriculture, and had identified alternative district industrial estates for new industry.

“It would be unacceptable if pollution from the biomass power plant at any site damaged agriculture, but it would be negligent of the Minister to approve the biomass power plant at Diamond Mill when the WA Planning Commission had specifically warned of potential for damage to agriculture. 

“We know from information obtained under the Freedom of Information Act that the Shire of Manjimup, Department of Environment and Conservation and the proponents have been struggling to find justification to use the Diamond Mill site and that the Minister must introduce a regulation to enable the biomass power plant to be located in State Forest at Diamond Mill.

 “This attempt to pervert planning objectives at Diamond Mill is particularly unacceptable considering both the Department of Environment and Conservation and the Shire of Manjimup were involved in the WA Planning Commission Industrial Sites Study.

“The ink was hardly dry on the July 2007 Industrial Sites Study report when on 27 August 2007 the Shire of Manjimup secretly wrote to the biomass power plant proponents suggesting they move from the Hester industrial estate near Bridgetown to Diamond Mill,” Mr Bartholomaeus said.

Convenor of the Biomass Action Group, Bob Pessotto, who owns a farm adjacent to Diamond Mill, said he and others had written to the Minister for the Environment warning him of potential compensation claims for loss of income and devaluation of prime agricultural land.

“Farmers with pre-existing rights on this prime agricultural land will fight to protect our ‘clean and green’ image, food bowl status, and income,” Mr Pessotto said.

Contact: Neil Bartholomaeus on 97724098, 0418910289, contact@nobiomass.com

Attachments:  (i) copy of letter to Minister for the Environment, (ii) copy of Manjimup Industrial Estate expansion plan from ‘Warren-Blackwood Region Industrial Sites Study’ (July 2007)


MEDIA RELEASE           17 MARCH 2008          WWW.NOBIOMASS.COM 

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION APPLICATION EXPOSES KARRI FOREST LINK
TO BIOMASS POWER PLANT AT DIAMOND MILL 

Documents obtained from the Shire of Manjimup under the Freedom of Information Act show Karri was discussed as possible fuel for a proposed biomass power plant at Diamond Mill near Manjimup, contrary to claims by the plant proponents and the Minister for Forestry that Karri is not relevant. 

Neil Bartholomaeus of the Biomass Action Group, who are opposed to the biomass power plant being located at Diamond Mill near prime agricultural land, and use of Karri as fuel, said the documents obtained from the Shire of Manjimup this week show: 

·       the Shire Director of Statutory Services noted discussions with the Department of Environment and Conservation on 8 October 2007 identified it would be difficult to use State Forest land at Diamond Mill for the biomass power plant without processing of timber from State Forest and that use of fuel from Karri thinning was a possible justification at that site;

·       the Shire CEO sent an email to Connell Wagner, consultants to the proponents of the biomass power plant on 9 October 2007 advising of the Shire’s meeting with the Department of Environment and Conservation suggesting the project ‘Consider use of Biomass from Karri thinning re growth’;

·      Babcock and Brown replied to the Shire CEO on 10 October 2007 acknowledging the email and expressing concern that a new Regulation was required to use the State Forest land;

·      the Shire CEO sent an email on 12 October 2007 to Councillor Keith Liddelow who was about to meet with the Minister for Forestry, Kim Chance, advising the Department of Environment and Conservation had suggested ‘Consider use of Biomass from Karri thinning re growth’;

·      Keith Liddelow in an email on 21 October 2007 advised the Shire CEO that ‘Kim Chance agreed he would provide whatever support he could should there be any hiccups in locating the Biomass plant at the Diamond Mill’, and

·      notes of the Shire CEO in a meeting with the proponents of the biomass power plant on 5 December 2007 relating to native hardwood record ‘can use if no higher value use but recognise the political environment’, similarly, notes of the Shire Director of Statutory Services in the same meeting record ‘Can use native hardwood if there is no other use’. 

Mr Bartholomaeus said these findings under FOI reveal there has been high level consideration of use of Karri at the proposed biomass power plant at Diamond Mill despite the Minister for Forestry making political responses ignoring the facts and the proponents of the biomass power plant saying in the press and in the Public Environmental Review they can’t use Karri. 

Members of the Biomass Action Group, who oppose the biomass power plant located at Diamond Mill, have written to the Premier requesting his assurance the Karri forest will not be ‘used and abused’ for biomass power generation. 

“We maintain the proposed biomass power plant at Diamond Mill is a ‘Trojan horse’ that will lead to an assault on the Karri forest as an energy resource, causing justifiable public opposition. 

“The Premier must stop this secret ‘behind closed doors’ assault on the Karri forest, and rule it out now,” Mr Bartholomaeus said. 

Mr Bartholomaeus said FOI also showed the Shire Director of Statutory Services, in an email to Connell Wagner on 27 August 2007 suggesting the Diamond Mill site, had offered 5,000 tonnes of green waste from the Shire of Manjimup Landfill site as fuel for the biomass plant, and the Shire Waste Management Officer on 29 October 2007 asked the Director if the plant could use paper and cardboard. 

“The reality with biomass power plants is that they will burn the cheapest possible fuel available to them once they are in operation, and the Karri forest near Diamond Mill is tempting,” Mr Bartholomaeus said. 

For further information contact Neil Bartholomaeus on 97724098 or contact@nobiomass.com
 

MEDIA RELEASE           25 FEBRUARY 2008          WWW.NOBIOMASS.COM 

PREMIER’S ASSURANCE SOUGHT THAT KARRI WON’T BE USED
 AS FUEL FOR BIOMASS POWER PLANT  

Premier Alan Carpenter has been asked for an assurance that Karri won’t be used to fuel the biomass power plant proposed to be located at Diamond Mill, between Manjimup and Pemberton. 

Members of the Biomass Action Group have written to the Premier requesting his assurance the Karri forest will not be ‘used and abused for biomass power generation’. 

The letter to the Premier says the Minister for Forestry has told Parliament a tender would offer Karri, Jarrah and Marri from State Forest to energy markets, and it was foreseeable:

·         that such energy generation using Karri, Jarrah and Marri will be conducted within the Diamond Mill precinct near Manjimup, taking advantage of the extensive network of roads previously used for the ‘Marri Woodchip Project’, for transport cost savings; and

·         Karri, Jarrah and Marri will be burnt in the proposed biomass power plant at Diamond Mill, as a commercially advantageous variation to the 380,000 tonnes per annum wood fuel mix for the proposed 40MW capacity, and for expansion beyond 40MW output. 

Spokesperson for the Biomass Action Group, Neil Bartholomaeus said the Minister for Forestry told State Parliament that Karri, Jarrah and Marri ‘forest residue’ and ‘forest waste’ will be offered to energy markets.  

“These ‘forest residue’ and ‘forest waste’ terms are precisely the same terms that were used to justify the notorious 'Marri Woodchip Project', where Marri was described as residue and waste from clear felling, and millions of tonnes of native forest were squandered as wood chips. 

“We believe the proposed biomass power plant at Diamond Mill is a ‘trojan horse’ that will lead to an assault on the Karri forest as an energy resource, causing justifiable public opposition. 

“While the present biomass power plant proposal doesn’t refer to Karri, Jarrah and Marri as fuel, we seek an assurance from the Premier that he won’t allow the Minister for Forestry and the Forest Products Commission to offer Karri, Jarrah and Marri to this or any other biomass power plant. 

“Western Australia exports $4 billion worth of natural gas annually; surely we have sufficient clean natural gas for electricity generation in WA as an alternative to burning the Karri forest,” Mr Bartholomaeus said. 

The letter to the Premier refers to Mr Carpenter in State Parliament in 1999 referring to woodchipping in the Karri forest as an ‘environmental catastrophe’. 

Mr Bartholomaeus said submissions to the EPA on the Public Environmental Review for the biomass power plant at Diamond Mill recommended the EPA oppose use of Karri, Jarrah and Marri from native forests as fuel for biomass power generation at Diamond Mill and elsewhere in WA. 

“If the proponents of the biomass power plant at Diamond Mill say they are not going to use Karri, Jarrah and Marri as fuel, then they shouldn’t be concerned if the Premier and EPA come out in opposition to burning the Karri forest for energy,” Mr Bartholomaeus said. 

For further information contact Neil Bartholomaeus on 97724098 and contact@nobiomass.com

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