New Brunswick

Biomass allocation upsets ecology groups

Environmental groups in New Brunswick say they're concerned about the allocation of "wood waste" on Crown land to eight private forestry companies.

Environmental groups in New Brunswick say they're concerned about the allocation of "wood waste" on Crown land to eight private forestry companies.

The province's first biomass policy, announced in 2008, covered 3.3 million hectares of Crown forests and allowed for interested groups to harvest the land for biomass.

The idea is to use wood waste left from logging — including tree tops, branches and foliage — to produce renewable energy and products.

The government put out a request for proposals in 2009. On Tuesday it announced that of the 16 applications received, eight of them — all large forestry companies — received allocations.

"Most of the biomass will be used in co-generation facilities to produce energy for use by these companies in their own facilities, and potentially surplus electricity for sale to the provincial power grid," Natural Resources Minister Wally Stiles said in a release.

"The provincial government is pleased to support these initiatives that will help reduce our dependency on fossil fuels while lowering energy costs for companies."

'Change of vision' urged

Toby Couture, vice-president of the Alliance for Community Energy, said he's disappointed that smaller, community-based energy projects were not included.

"It might be time for a change of vision, a change of perspective that actually invites New Brunswickers, individuals and small woodlot owners and individual business owners in the process of actually making use of these Crown resources so that they maximize benefits for local communities," he said.

The following companies received biomass allocations:

  • 308,000 cubic metres to Twin Rivers Paper Co. Inc. for its Edmundston mill.
  • 272,000 cu. m to AV Cell Inc. for its Atholville mill.
  • 221,000 cu. m to AV Nackawic Inc. for its Nackawic mill.
  • 139,000 cu. m to Lake Utopia Paper for its St. George mill.
  • 138,000 cu. m to Irving Pulp and Paper Ltd. for its Saint John plant.
  • 76,000 cu. m to Irving Paper Ltd. of Saint John.
  • 62,000 cu. m to Groupe Savoie Inc. for its St. Quentin plant.
  • 60,000 cu. m to J.D. Irving Ltd. for its Chipman mill.

Tracy Glynn of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick said there is also a concern that clearing away the biomass will have a negative effect on forests and wildlife.

"We know that we need to reduce habitat loss and this is only going to increase habitat loss with removing woody debris in our forest that is habitat," she said Wednesday.

Glynn also said the policy does not do enough to preserve and protect biodiversity.