Concerns Voiced over Nova Scotia Biomass Logging

- by Lois Ann Dort, Guysborough Journal

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"192","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","style":"width: 333px; height: 189px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: left;"}}]]Last week Nova Scotia Power held one of many regional committee meetings at the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre. Members of the Municipality of the District of Guysbrough council were on hand and voiced concerns about the harvesting of biomass in the district to supply the biomass plant at Point Tupper. The topic was briefly discussed at the regular monthly council meeting on Wednesday, May 14. After council adjourned Warden Vernon Pitts spoke to the media about council's concerns.

 “What we've been presented and what we've been sold at the starting line are two different things,” said Pitts. When asked to clarify the discrepancy he stated, “The discrepancy is that they are basically clear cutting.”

 “My sense of biomass is that you cut a log, value added. You take the branches, you take the top; that is your biomass. We're losing sight of that at present...The contractor is going in they are slashing the forest down and they are taking the log for biomass to chip and they are leaving the branches and the tops there for fertilization. Someone smarter than me must have come up with this, " said Pitts jokingly. "You don't have to plant seedlings anymore, you let regen take over and you save more money there.”

 When asked how NSP responded to their concerns at the committee meeting, Pitts said NSP defended their position, though weakly. “The Municipality of the District of Guysborough and our councillors at that meeting were not the only ones that brought up problems with biomass...If you were to jump in your vehicle right now and travel to Country Harbour through the 12 Mile Woods, going through there it looks like a moonscape...There are no trees and this was beautiful woodland with prime hardwood stands and prime spruce and fir. It's gone now. They say it regenerates itself, it's renewable energy. I agree it is renewable but it is not going to be in our lifetime nor my children's lifetime.”

 “Yesterday (at the NSP meeting) I gave the explanation that in the Lundy area, Larry's River, Guysborough as a whole, we have maybe that much top soil,” said Pitts indicating a few centimetres between his finger and thumb, “we have trees growing on rocks.” He went on to say that small trees would grow in such soil but their size did not indicate their age; a small tree that might look like a 10 or 20 year old tree in a soil rich area could be 50 to 100 years old in these less hospitable soils. “Once you cut that, it is gone. It is not coming back.”

 Pitts said council was not satisfied with the feedback on the biomass project they had received from NSP. No further course of action on the topic was outlined at the council meeting.

 In other business, MODG staff members Glen Avery, Director of Public Works and Shawn Andrews, IT & Protective Services Coordinator were recognized for their coordination and leadership efforts during the Canso Ice Storm. They were both presented with a framed certificate thanking them for their work during this emergency situation which saw the community of Canso without power for five days earlier this spring.