Heyfield’s ASH energy plans hindered

AUSTRALIA’S biggest hardwood sawmill and timber processing operation Australian Sustainable Hardwoods at Heyfield , already makes a significant economic contribution to Gippsland.

The operation was only recently purchased by Australian Sustainable Hardwoods, a private company formed for the purpose by the Hermal Group and equity partners the Jagen Group and Gilboa, it has already increased its employment numbers and moved to full production.

However its potential to supply the district with electricity generated from its waste product has been limited by provisions of the Federal government’s carbon pricing scheme.

Despite the operation purchasing only regrowth ash (timber) certified under the Australian Forestry Standard, and being certified to ISO14001 International Environmental Standard, AS4801 Australian Safety Standard and AS4707 Chain of Custody for Certified Wood and Forest products, its waste can not be used to generate power because of compromises negotiated between the Greens and the government.

While these restrictions frustrate ASH chief executive officer Vince Hurley he explained the operation was now prospering as a stand alone business with its own management and systems — all operated from Heyfield.

To enable its independent operation free of the corporate structure of previous owners Gunns, ASH has installed new payroll, accounting and production systems as well as employing two senior administrators and three sales personnel.

The installation and operation of the IT systems had been demanding but effectively managed.

“One hundred and seventy five of our employees are paid under awards, and we had the payroll system up and running in under a week, and had all our PAYG certificates issued in the first week of July and our invoicing on the second day,” Mr Hurley said.

Read about ASH and its operations in a special report in Friday’s Gippsland Times.