MEDIA RELEASE June 26, 2024


“Logging industry and NSW Nationals are putting profits for a few ahead of safety and energy security for regional communities,” said NCEC Vice-President Susie Russell.

The response follows NSW Nationals leader Dugald Sunders urging the Minns Labor Government to reverse a decision by regional electricity distributor Essential Energy to replace ageing and failing timber power poles across its network with more fire resilient fibreglass composite poles.

2019 Black Summer Fires 104A9950.jpg

Susie Russell said, “The safety and energy security of North Coast communities matters.

“It’s clear that timber power poles are not the best choice for our community. This move by Essential Energy is about protecting our region from the impacts of severe bushfires and should be applauded.

“A significant portion of the state’s timber power pole supply has come from areas proposed for the Great Koala National Park. It’s fantastic that Essential Energy is moving to a non-timber alternative that is better for the community and will leave the trees standing to support the creation of the Great Koala National Park.”

Justin Field from the Forest Alliance NSW said, “The only explanation for the timber industry and NSW Nationals to oppose this move is that they are trying to protect logging profits at the expense of community safety and resilience.

“The sad reality is that not only are timber power poles more susceptible to fire, the logging of native forests to take these trees makes those forests more prone to high intensity fires further increasing risks to those local communities. It’s a lose lose.

“There are many alternatives to logging native forests. We use plantation pine for house frames and people are increasingly using composite decking and flooring for improved fire resilience and reduced maintenance. It makes sense to go with materials more suited to our conditions.

“Currently, most trees taken from native forests end up as cardboard or exported as wood chips. It’s incredibly wasteful so what we can do to move to alternatives like composite materials is a win-win,” Justin Field said.

Susie Russell said, “After the 2019/20 fires many of our communities were left without reliable power due to the number of timber poles burnt and the time it took to restore the network. For fire impacted communities $1.54 per year per household, which is what the electricity regulator has determined it will cost, is a small expense to protect against future power disruptions and to build our community’s resilience.

“Taking timber from native forests is expensive and heavily subsidised by taxpayers to enable the industry to remain profitable so households are already paying for an inferior product which leaves their critical power supply more vulnerable.

“There is lots of talk about building back better after the fires. Good on Essential Energy for acting to do their part to keep regional communities safer,” Susie Russell said.

Destruction to our Public Native Forests by Logging IMG_2869.jpg

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