Wind & solar farms for NSW forestry land

Friday 26 Nov 2021

Wind and solar farms have been earmarked for construction across hundreds of kilometres of NSW government-owned softwood forestry land under proposed changes to the state’s energy laws. Close to 1600 hectares of Forestry Corporation land would be made available for wind turbines and solar farms under a plan that would allow the corporation to boost its income by millions of dollars.

However, the new legislation has prompted concerns within the industry and the Labor opposition that the state government is building the revenue base of the softwood asset to boost its price in a future privatisation. The government was set to privatise the asset - comprising 230,000 hectares of radiata pine forests - for an estimated $1 billion in 2020 but abandoned the plans after the 2019/20 bushfires destroyed about 25 per cent of the plantations.

Treasurer and Energy Minister Matt Kean said the proposed legislation, which is set to be debated in Parliament, would boost renewable energy generation and provide Forestry with an added revenue stream. “Wind turbines and solar panels will be able to be built on Forestry Corp land to help it diversify its income streams and make it more sustainable in the long run,” Mr Kean told the Herald.

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As an update to this story, the NSW Parliament passed amendments on Friday of last week to the Forestry Act 2012 as part of the Energy Legislation Amendment Bill to enable clean energy developments such as wind energy to be established in State forest pine plantations.

CEO Forestry Corporation Anshul Chaudhary said the opportunity to add to the sustainability of the already renewable timber resource was exciting. “We’ve seen great examples of renewable energy being produced in plantations interstate and overseas while maintaining a strong supply of timber and it’s exciting to open the doors to this new opportunity to grow renewable energy production in NSW.

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Source: SMH, FCNSW

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