The NSW Greens have warned the State Government to expect a ‘Franklin Dam’ like campaign to save Sydney’s wild rivers and important Aboriginal cultural heritage sites that would be lost if the proposal to raise the Warragamba Dam wall and flood the Blue Mountains National Park World Heritage area goes ahead.
The call follows the passage overnight of a bill that would allow the flooding of up to 4,700 hectares of World Heritage listed National Park should the 14m dam wall raising project be approved.
Greens Urban Water Spokesperson Justin Field said, “the community is left with no choice. This will be Sydney’s ‘Franklin’ campaign to save the World Heritage listed Blue Mountains and wild rivers like the Kowmung; the irreplaceable Aboriginal heritage in the river valleys and the threatened and endangered species that rely on the area.
“Make no mistake, even a temporary inundation of these hugely important, beautiful and sacred areas means the long-term destruction of its environmental and heritage values.
“The community should be disgusted by the process. The Government and conservative cross bench members voted for legislation when they have no idea about the full extent of the impacts of this proposal.
“A short parliamentary inquiry before the bill passed raised more questions than answers about the project’s impacts. That should have been enough to halt the legislation but the Government wouldn’t even support sensible amendments by the Greens that their own members supported in a short inquiry before the vote.
“The inquiry heard compelling evidence from environmental groups, local Aboriginal communities and water experts that exposed a lack of proper consultation and environmental assessment, significant unknowns in terms of how often the World Heritage Area will be flooded and a lack of detail in the Government's cost benefit analysis of the other flood management options.
“The Environmental Impact Assessment hasn’t been done, the business case for the proposal has not considered the alternatives fully but the Government members and cross bench MPs have given Stuart Ayres and the Planning Minister the green light to let rip with a plan that has more to do with housing development on the flood plain than genuine flood mitigation. The consequences to our most precious environmental areas didn’t get a look in.
“The Government has not made the case for raising the Warragamba Dam wall for flood mitigation. Experts provided clear evidence that this proposal will not reduce flood risk and there are alternatives available that will reduce flood risk, improve water security, while not destroying world heritage habitat”.
“The Greens will be making this a key campaign in the lead up to next year’s state election. We’ll stand for the environment, for Aboriginal heritage, for our wild rivers. There are alternative flood management options but you can’t replace these precious World Heritage areas.