The NSW Treasurer originally described a vast $1.6 billion project to raise the Warragamba Dam wall by 14 meters as economically “unviable” and “difficult,” but it may now be expedited.
The contentious flood control project was deemed essential state infrastructure by Premier Dominic Perrottet on Wednesday, just as the catchment region is expected to receive a month’s worth of rain over the next week.
But Matt Kean said there were “alternative methods” to reduce the danger of flooding along the Hawkesbury-Nepean river and the project wouldn’t “add up” in his speech at a 2019 dinner as environment minister before he took on the finance ministry.
There are other methods to reduce the likelihood of flooding along that river, regardless of whether you support expanding the dam wall or not, Mr. Kean said.
I believe that boosting the dam wall’s economics will render the project unworkable.
By the time you pay for the offsets for the harm caused by raising the wall, “the economic case will not stack up,”
When it comes to the raising of the Warragamba Dam wall, Mr. Kean specifically mentioned “the Blue Mountains National Park” and promised to be a “strong” advocate for the environment.
When questioned once again about whether the project was still “feasible” by NSW Shadow Environment Minister Penny Sharpe in October 2021, Mr. Kean said that the “economics were problematic.”
Mr. Kean’s pledge to defend the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, according to Ms. Sharpe, ring hollow on Wednesday.
According to Ms. Sharpe, who spoke to Daily Mail Australia, “Matt Kean vowed to be a strong advocate for the environment, but now all the community hears is crickets.”
He constantly talks a big game but doesn’t show up when it matters.
Although Mr. Kean maintains his concern for the environment, the recent severe flooding in the state necessitated a potent mitigation strategy.
I appreciate the value of the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, Mr. Kean remarked, adding that I adore our national parks.
I would rather see water lapping in a national park than in people’s living rooms, however, given the recent enormous floods and growing unpredictable nature of major weather occurrences.
Not only the Treasurer, but other Coalition members, have expressed reservations about the plan.
A cross-parliamentary group that included Wes Fang of the Nationals, Liberal MLCs Shayne Mallard and Taylor Martin, and others unanimously urged more investigation of the environmental implications and obtaining the permission of the local First Nations people.
Traditional owners and environmentalists are adamantly opposed and have already started a campaign to stop the wall from being up.
Ms. Sharpe said that the project put the site’s World Heritage designation at jeopardy and that it had not received funding for 12 years despite the coalition government.
She continued by saying that since roughly half of the floods in the Hawkesbury-Nepean region originated from catchment regions downstream from the dam, the project wouldn’t be done for at least eight years and wouldn’t be able to stop flooding in the area.
Following the NSW Premier’s declaration that Wednesday was a “landmark day… for a project that has been spoken about for decades,” she made her remarks.
The development is exempt from several sections of environmental and planning rules since the elevation of the dam wall has been designated as Critical State Significant Infrastructure.
We need to invest, Mr. Perrottet said, adding that he didn’t want the crucial infrastructure hampered by government regulations and red tape.
In order to defend western Sydney against floods, Mr. Perrottet remarked, “It is primarily about preserving lives and protecting property.”
According to an independent flood investigation assessment, raising the wall is the best option to safeguard areas in western Sydney that are downstream from the dam.
He stated that it was the most efficient long-term flood mitigation plan for defending communities in the flood-prone Hawkesbury-Nepean.
Raising the dam wall would lower the number of impacted residences from 15,000 to 5000 in the event of another significant flooding event in the Hawkesbury-Nepean region.
According to the prime, 14,000 instead of over 90,000 people would need to be evacuated.
According to Kevin Anderson, minister of water, raising the wall would also save up to $8 billion in damages.
In advance of what will likely be a close state election, independent MP Justin Field criticized the premier’s statement as a cynical political ploy.
He said that several analyses, both at the state and federal levels, have highlighted severe concerns about the advantages of building the wall.
According to Mr. Field, “This ruling eliminates the community’s rights to appeal a future decision in the courts,” and that is quite worrying.
“That’s a bad procedure,” you say.
It is clear that the project would negatively affect upstream wildlife, including highly endangered species like the Regent Honeyeater and unspoiled natural rivers like the Kowmung, according to a study by Mr. Field from 2021.
Prior to a complete review being carried out in accordance with planning legislation, Water NSW will address concerns made in comments on the proposal.
To strengthen flood protection and evacuation infrastructure, the opposition has pledged $225 million for projects including evacuation routes, levees, and crucial communications infrastructure in western Sydney.