The Greens have called on the Minister for Western Sydney and Member for Penrith, Stuart Ayres, and the Chief Executive Officer of Infrastructure NSW, Jim Betts, to clarify whether they misled Parliament over plans to raise the Warragamba Dam.
Media reports today suggest documents have emerged that show the Government's plans involve raising the dam ‘structurally’ to support a 17 metre raising even though initially the ‘operational’ increase will be 14 metres.
NSW Greens Water Spokesperson, Justin Field, says “These documents suggest the plans have always been to pursue a dam wall higher than 14 metres. If that’s the case, the Minister and Infrastructure NSW have questions to answer about whether or not they mislead Parliament in answers to questions I put to them in Budget Estimates last year”. (See the transcript below)
“During budget estimates hearings I asked the Minister to guarantee the people of Sydney, and Western Sydney in particular, that the dam wall will not be raised by more than 14 metres. He responded to say “We are doing our business case on 14 metres”.
“Despite repeated questioning, the Minister continued to give an answer that now seems to be covering for plans to prepare for a higher wall.
“Given the level of planning that has already gone into the project and the public attention on the potential impacts, it is untenable that the Minister and CEO of Infrastructure NSW weren’t aware of plans to prepare for a higher raising when I asked these questions.
“If they weren’t aware at the time they should have corrected the public record once they became aware. The Minister and Mr Betts have to clear up the public record now.
“Any additional height of the dam wall, even if just for structural purposes in the first instance, should have been disclosed in Parliament and should be subject to the final business case and environmental assessment,” Mr Field said.
See link to budget estimates transcript (page 12 and 13).