Saturday, April 13, 2024

Wollondilly council slams dam wall plan

Wollondilly Shire Council unanimously voted to reassert its strong opposition to the raising of the Warragamba Dam Wall at an extraordinary meeting on Friday, condemning the inadequacies of the recently released Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

Council has criticised what it has described as the EIS’ watering down of environmental protections, insufficient indigenous heritage studies which fail to recognise the need to protect Gundungurra sacred sites, and inadequate consultation with Wollondilly.

The 45 days provided for submissions to be submitted was considered completely insufficient for such a major project, particularly given that the EIS took four years to prepare, Mayor Robert Khan said.

“This report is several thousand pages long, which doesn’t give residents time to fully review the documentation and prepare strong, considered submissions.”

“This is a defining moment for all of us – the Greater Blue Mountains, including parts of Wollondilly, could lose its World Heritage Status if the raising of the dam wall goes ahead.

“We need to protect what is important and prevent the decimation of our indigenous heritage and native species that once destroyed, can never be replaced,” Mayor Khan said.

“It is very concerning that only 20% of the impacted area was looked at in the EIS, and the investigation only took 25 days, so we don’t even know the full extent of what will be lost.”

He said the EIS also shows that Wollondilly residents would be significantly impacted during construction of the proposed wall, particularly with regards to traffic, heavy vehicle and noise impacts right through the Shire.

“In terms of providing flood protection for residents downstream, there are alternative solutions that have not been properly examined or costed.”

“The government needs to investigate evacuation routes for residents living in the Penrith and Hawkesbury areas, and stop allowing further development in the flood plain,” the Mayor said.

Given the extensive documentation to be reviewed and the short timeframe to provide a submission, the preparation of a comprehensive and detailed response to the EIS will be a priority task for Council, he said.

Mr Khan said Wollondilly Council had previously worked with Blue Mountains City Council to advocate on this issue and would now undertake a “robust community engagement campaign” to inform the community of the major concerns with the EIS and to strongly encourage submissions.

Council has also made it clear that it is not supportive of any council owned land, including land within Warragamba Recreation Reserve, being used for any purpose related to the proposed construction of the dam raising.

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