Mayor gives evidence opposing Warragamba Dam proposal

26 Nov 2019

Blue Mountains Mayor Mark Greenhill gave evidence to a NSW Parliamentary Inquiry yesterday against the raising of the Warragamba Dam wall.

Cr Greenhill’s evidence, given by phone, revolved around Blue Mountains City Council’s concern in the inadequacy of the Environmental Impact Assessment process to date, including the assessment of impacts on World Heritage, Aboriginal Cultural Heritage and the ecological values of the Greater Blue Mountains National Park.

“Council’s strong sense of responsibility for the protection of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area (GBMWHA) is reflected in its significant and ongoing investments in its environmental management programs and the stringent planning controls in the Local Environmental Plan 2015, including some of most stringent stormwater provisions in the State and the only schedule of significant vegetation communities in a Local Environment Plan,” Cr Greenhill said.

“In addition, BMCC has strong collaborative working relationships with the Darug and Gundungurra Traditional Owners in caring for Ngurra (Country), including a formal Native Title agreement, the Gundungurra Indigenous Land Use Agreement.”

Blue Mountains City Council believes that the raising of the dam wall and the flood zones that would result, poses a serious and irreparable threat to the significant tangible and intangible Aboriginal Cultural values of Gundungurra Country.

This has been more fully expressed in the recent Aboriginal Place nomination lodged with the NSW Government by the Gundungurra people, which received the full support of Council.

“We strongly urge the NSW Government to undertake a more complete cultural assessment of the impacted area, involving Traditional Owners, and provide a longer period for Traditional Owners to comment on the findings of the further study,” Cr Greenhill said.

“We also strongly recommend that any action by the NSW Government in this matter complies with the Gundungurra Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA), established under the Native Title Act 1993 (NT Act).”

Cr Greenhill said Council was currently unable to provide any detailed comment on the impact of the proposal on the ecological values of the Greater Blue Mountains National Park, as this component of the EIA process is yet to be completed and released. 

“However, BMCC has significant concerns regarding the integrity of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process being conducted by the NSW Government,” he said.

“The NSW Government’s actions to date have pre-empted the outcomes of the EIA process. This is exemplified in the passing of the Water NSW Amendment (Warragamba Dam) Bill 2018, which has the effect of amending the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 to allow the temporary flooding of the World Heritage listed Blue Mountains National Park.

“We suggest that the passing of such a significant and highly specific piece of legislation should have been informed by the EIA process, and not enacted prior to the completion, or indeed the commencement of, the assessment process.”
Wollondilly Shire Council Deputy Mayor Matt Gould also gave evidence to the Select Committee on the Proposal to Raise the Warragamba Dam Wall.

Blue Mountains and Wollondilly councils have formed an alliance to raise awareness about what is at stake with this proposal. The councils held a community forum on 10 November as part of that campaign.

Pic: Blue Mountains Mayor Mark Greenhill.

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