The Greens will move to refer legislation to allow the flooding of the World Heritage Blue Mountains National Park to an extended parliamentary inquiry when Parliament returns next week.
The move follows the release today of a report by the Standing Committee on State Development into the Water NSW Amendment (Warragamba Dam) Bill 2018 following a snap one week inquiry process.
The report recommend the Bill be supported despite strong evidence from environmental groups, local Aboriginal communities and water experts that there has been a lack of proper consultation and environmental assessment, there remain 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.
Passage of the bill would remove the only legislative hurdle to the proposal to raise Warragamba Dam wall by 14 metres that would see flooding of up to 4700 hectares of the World Heritage Blue Mountains National Park and the destruction of an unknown number of Aboriginal cultural sites.
NSW Greens Urban Water Spokesperson, Justin Field, said “This legislation should not be passed by the Legislative Council. The Greens will move for an extended inquiry to more fully consider the impacts of this proposal.
“This is the only time the NSW Parliament will be able to scrutinise the Government’s plans. It is totally unacceptable that MPs are being asked to vote on a bill without the potential impacts being understood.
In the inquiry Aunty Sharyn Halls, Gundungurra Elder, from the Gundungurra Aboriginal Heritage Association Inc. expressed her concern over the lack of consultation “Aboriginal people do not like being in a box and just being part of a process”.
“The community expects MPs to be fully informed when we vote on legislation, particularly laws that will cause massive permanent damage to environmental and cultural heritage.
“The Government was unable to answer the most basic questions in the recent inquiry about how often the World Heritage areas would be flooded and couldn’t explain how the new laws would interact with the existing National Park Plan of Management.
“The Government acknowledged in the hearings that there is no legal need to pass this legislation now. It can and should wait until the environment assessment is completed so we can have an informed debate in the parliament and the public about the risks to the National Park and Aboriginal cultural heritage and the best flood management and water security options for Sydney.
“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 full report can be read here.