Burning of biomaterial

Information on the burning of biomaterial is relevant to any premises that burns biomaterial to generate electricity, including electricity-generating works that

The NSW Government’s policy on the use of native forest biomaterial for electricity generation is implemented through the Protection of the Environment Operations (General) Regulation 2009, specifically clauses 96-98. These clauses prohibit the use of native forest biomaterials in electricity generation, but exempt certain types of native vegetation or woody waste from the definition of native forest biomaterials. The material exempted from the definition can be burned for the purpose of electricity generation.

Recent changes to exemptions

Recent amendments have been made to the exemptions through the Protection of the Environment Operations (General) Amendment (Native Forest Bio-materials) Regulation 2013, which commenced on 7 March 2014. This Regulation exempts two additional types of native forest biomaterials, which are

  1. Invasive native species (INS) legally cleared in accordance with a property vegetation plan (PVP) that has been approved under Part 4 of the Native Vegetation Act 2003 after an assessment under chapter 7 of the Assessment Methodology (within the meaning of Part 4 of the Native Vegetation Regulation 2013) and a declaration relating to invasive native species by an order under clause 38 of the Native Vegetation Regulation 2013
  2. Certain materials resulting from forestry operations carried out on land to which an Integrated Forestry Operations Approval (IFOA) applies under Part 5B of the Forestry Act 2012 as well as debris from clearing carried out in accordance with a private native forestry PVP.

The questions and answers provide additional information on the new exemptions.

Consultation on the exemptions

Consultation on the proposed exemptions was held from 22 July to 23 August 2013. A summary of the key issues raised and the EPA’s response can be found in the summary of submissions (PDF 73KB).

Requirements for record keeping

Clause 98 of the Regulation requires the occupier of any premises on which biomaterial of any kind (including non-native bio-material) is burnt in any electricity-generating work to keep certain records in accordance with any guidelines established by the EPA. The Guidelines for the Burning of Bio-material: Record-keeping Requirements for Electricity Generating Facilities (PDF 77KB) were updated by the EPA and gazetted on 14 March 2014.

The record-keeping guidelines include electricity-generating works which

  • require an environment protection licence under Schedule 1 of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997
  • fall outside Schedule 1 and do not require an environment protection licence

The EPA is the appropriate regulatory authority for the purposes of clause 98 of the Regulation and is responsible for ensuring that all electricity-generating works which burn biomaterial comply with the record keeping requirements. Records must be kept for four years.

Forestry Corporation of NSW reporting

As a result of these changes, the Forestry Corporation of NSW (FCNSW) will keep detailed records of the biomaterial sourced from Integrated Forestry Operations Approval areas (IFOA). FCNSW will report the following information annually on their website

Volumes of biomaterial

  • Volume of high quality products sold by State Forest (sawlog, poles, piles, girders and veneer).
  • Volume of lower quality solid wood products sold by State Forest (sawlogs).
  • Volume of pulpwood sold by State Forest (export and domestic).
  • Volume sold of other timber products by State Forest (firewood, fencing, wood-chop blocks, etc.).
  • Volume sold of biomass for domestic electricity production by State Forest.

Harvest area where biomaterial is sourced

  • Area harvested for regeneration purposes by State Forest.
  • Area harvested using Australian Group Selection (AGS) by State Forest.
  • Area harvested for select products (selecting single trees) by State Forest.
  • Area harvested to promote growth on residual trees (thinning) by State Forest.

The EPA will conduct regular audits of all this information, including using satellite imagery where appropriate to ensure environmental values are not compromised. These arrangements will be formally recognised in the new coastal IFOA.

The information reported by the FCNSW will be benchmarked back to 1 July 2010 for the area data and 1 July 2004 for the volume data. This information will be updated annually.

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