Commissioners in Madison County, North Carolina, US, voted unanimously on 16 November to establish a moratorium on biomass facilities in the area, reported WLOS.
Clear Sky Madison president Jim Tibbetts said county leaders decided after speaking with community residents that they needed to have biomass rules written into the county's land use ordinance to be able to better regulate the facilities, which manufacture wood pellets for export.
Tibbetts said such facilities can process hundreds of thousands of tons of wood a year. The county's planning board recommended the moratorium to commissioners.
Tibbetts added the planning board did a great job listening to the community's concerns. He said the moratorium was necessary because most people don’t know what biomass facilities are.
“They use hundreds of thousands of tons of wood a year, and it’s not always waste wood. They cut down trees. And there’s very little enforcement of this. So we, arguably, lose our forest,” Tibbetts continued.
Unregulated biomass facilities are not something that would be beneficial to the quiet mountain living people are accustomed to, Tibbetts said.
The goal of the moratorium is to provide time for a group to come in and create rules that will protect the county.
“Biomass is the future, you know it really is. We have all this waste wood and things that are filling up landfills, but it needs to be done responsibly,” Tibbetts said.
He said he hoped other Western North Carolina counties will use the rules Madison comes up with to help save the forests.
While commissioners did pass the moratorium, they did not specify how long it will last.