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Industry News Push for large-scale wood pellet mills as Tasmania deals with native timber waste

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Push for large-scale wood pellet mills as Tasmania deals with native timber waste

    Push for large-scale wood pellet mills as Tasmania deals with native timber waste
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There are hopes Tasmania will soon catch up to New Zealand, in developing large-scale wood pellet mills to process native timber waste.

The state’s forest industry produces millions of tonnes of residues each year and the Tasmanian Government has called for expressions of interest from the private sector, to put them to good use.

Resources Minister Paul Harriss is pushing for biomass proposals, stating value adding in Tasmania is preferable to wholesale exports of woodchips.

Pellet retailer Rob Douglas said there was huge potential for native timber residues to be made into wood pellets for bio-energy.

“We’re importing 40 per cent of our requirements at the moment because here we are in winter at peak demand [and] our pellet production can’t meet that demand so we’re importing from New Zealand,” he said.

“Why would we be importing pellets from New Zealand when we can make them here in Tassie out of our own product?”

“The pellet plant that we source from is capable of 60,000 tonnes per year so that would be enough pellet energy just in that one factory in New Zealand to heat half of Tasmania.”

Mr Douglas has opened a small wood pellet mill with timber processor, Brett McKay, at Glenorchy.

It produces 1,200 tonnes of hardwood pellets a year, but there is already demand for 3,000 tonnes and he said that was only expected to grow.

“We built our pellet plant here just as a proof of concept, to show investors that it’s viable and we’ve already proven that to the point where in the last two years, demand exceeds supply,” he said.

Upper House MP Adriana Taylor is a passionate supporter of biomass and said it was crazy to be importing wood pellets.

“We’ve got a number of sawmills that have huge stockpiles of sawdust and woodchips,” she said.

“Why would we be importing pellets from New Zealand when we can make them here in Tassie out of our own product?”

Environmentalists 20 years behind the times, says MLC

Last year Mrs Taylor led a delegation of Tasmanian forestry representatives and decision makers to Austria.

“In Austria there are small towns [and] villages that are being heated by biomass and we could do that with some of our more remote towns,” she said.

Last year Mrs Taylor led a delegation of Tasmanian forestry representatives and decision makers to Austria.

“In Austria there are small towns [and] villages that are being heated by biomass and we could do that with some of our more remote towns,” she said.

She said she did not understand the views of environmentalists who were warning biomass could become the new wood chipping.

“Why are we different to the rest of the world?” she said.

“If the rest of the world can see social license, properly managed forests, why can we not do that when the rest of the world can?

“I kind of felt like when I went to Austria and some of those other European countries, that our environmental movement is now a bit stuck.

“It’s 20 years behind the times, compared to other countries in the world.”

She said green groups had played an important role in Tasmania but there needed to be balance.

“They need to recognise there can be a balance, that in fact it’s best for our working forest to also be managed well, for the health of the forests if not for anything else.”

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