New rules around biomass production in Nova Scotia will reduce the number of trees being cut down in the province for a plant in Port Hawkesbury.

When it opened in 2013, the plant was billed as a renewable energy facility that would help the province meet clean energy targets.

Now government is scrapping regulations requiring the plant to run at full capacity.

“Which is going to significantly reduce the amount of primary forest products being used at that facility,” said Nova Scotia Energy Minister Michel Samson.

According to Nova Scotia Power, the plant uses as much as 50 truckloads – or 2000 tonnes – of biomass per day, producing up to four per cent of the province’s overall electricity.

Critics say this kind of biomass is not clean energy at all.

“Cutting trees to burn them to generate electricity is as bad for the planet through carbon release as burning coal,” said Raymond Plourde of the Ecology Action Centre.

Samson says government is responding to public pressure, but the Ecology Action Centre says Nova Scotia should shut the plant down.

“It is a problem for our forests here in Nova Scotia they’re being hammered to feed this and other biomass projects,” said Plourde.

“Obviously going to reduce the amount of usage of that facility and therefore we believe that this addresses the concerns that Nova Scotians have raised,” said Samson.

Samson says biomass is more expensive than other types of electricity.

“If there are savings to be achieved, which we expect, that those will be passed on to Nova Scotia ratepayers,” he said.

The biomass facility will not shut down entirely, according to Port Hawkesbury Paper’s development manager.

The company says no forestry jobs will be lost, and the plant will continue to provide steam for its pulp mill operations.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Sarah Ritchie.