Labor opposes State Government legislation that would allow the inundation of 65km of the World Heritage protected Blue Mountains National Park, as part of the proposed project to raise the Warragamba Dam wall.
These laws are being rushed through prior to the government releasing the Environmental Impact Statement for the project, due later this year. The NSW Government introduced the legislation into the Legislative Council this week.
Community groups, scientists, local councils and environmental groups have raised concerns about the project suspecting that it may be related to a planning proposal which would rapidly increase the population on flood prone land in Sydney’s North West by more than 100,000 people.
They accuse the Government of using the Warragamba Dam wall proposal to allow developers in to previously restricted flood prone land.
While the legislation is being rammed through the Parliament the Berejiklian Government has refused to provide any meaningful public information about the cost of the proposed dam project. Experts put the price tag at a whopping $670 million (though other estimates put it as high as $1 billion) the equivalent of $268 for each Sydney household in construction costs alone.
If the aim of the project is flood mitigation and not opening up flood prone land for development, the Government should look at peer-reviewed research by the University of Technology that identified lowering Warragamba Dam’s full storage level as a favourable option for creating flood mitigation space in the dam, thereby negating the need for the dam wall raising.
Other research on flooding in the Sydney basin shows that half of the modern floods in the Valley have come as a result of flooding on the Nepean River which suggests that funding evacuation routes must be the primary goal of any flood mitigation strategy.
Quotes attributable to Member for Summer Hill, Jo Haylen
“I have been contacted by countless Inner West Residents stressing their strong opposition to this senseless attack on Blue Mountains National Park.
“As density in our suburbs grows, it is integral that we act to protect world heritage protected sites for future generations.
“This is just another example of this Government's vandalism of national parks across the state."
Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for Water Chris Minns
“It is remarkable that the Government refused to lift a finger on flood preparedness for seven and a half years, even when Warragamba Dam was near full capacity, yet they now expect us to believe that scientific research and an EIS process should be junked even though the dam’s capacity is at just 66 per cent today.
“Labor will oppose this reckless legislation that will cause untold damage to this priceless piece of Australia’s natural heritage.
“The NSW Government has done next to nothing to examine enhanced evacuation routes or come up with a detailed emergency management plan in the event of a catastrophic flood in their seven and a half years in office.
“This approach is last minute, blunt and will do untold damage to the World Heritage protected park.”
Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for the Environment Penny Sharpe
“These laws are an appalling attack on one of our greatest national parks. If passed they risk the world heritage status of the Blue Mountains National Park.
“World Heritage Protection is the highest level of protection given to precious natural areas. This proposal is the equivalent of dredging the corals of the Great Barrier Reef.
“These laws jump the gun on the government’s own environmental process and should not.”