News

Dick Smith: Let’s not raise the dam so that we can have more people in Sydney, let’s actually not have more people in Sydney

Australian entrepreneur, Dick Smith, has thrown his support behind the campaign to save the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area from a NSW Government proposal to raise Warragamba dam wall. Raising the dam wall would flood up to 65 kilometres of wild rivers and streams within the World Heritage Area to justify new urban sprawl across western Sydney floodplains.

Mr Smith spoke to the campaign with veteran environmentalist Bob Brown on a helicopter flight over the southern Blue Mountains wilderness that would be flooded by raising the dam wall.

Hawkesbury City Council votes down motion to support raising Warragamba Dam wall

Hawkesbury City Council last night voted down a motion to support the raising of the Warragamba Dam wall. Councilors voted 5-7 to reject a Liberal motion to support the dam wall raising, with numerous Councillors voicing concern that they were being asked to vote on a proposal they knew very little about.

MEDIA RELEASE: Bob Brown and Bob Debus to launch campaign to save Blue Mountains wild rivers

The Colong Foundation for Wilderness will be launching its Wild Rivers Campaign in the Blue Mountains later this month. Dr Bob Brown and Bob Debus AM have thrown their support behind the conservation group’s push to save 65 kilometres of World Heritage Listed wild rivers from the proposed raising of Warragamba Dam wall.

Sydney's Mountain Rivers feature in Bush Walking Australia Magazine

Protecting Australia’s wild rivers was a seminal time in the nation’s environmental consciousness. The Franklin River campaign of the 1980s saw the nation come together to save Tasmania’s unique wild rivers and wilderness areas. Unfortunately, some of Australia’s most pristine wild rivers are again under threat.

 

Warragamba Dam plan puts Blue Mountains World Heritage Area at risk: environmentalists

The Blue Mountains World Heritage Area is under threat if the state government’s plans to raise the Warragamba Dam wall proceed, environmentalists warn.

"Raising the dam will destroy unique environments within the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, including the pristine Kowmung River wilderness,” said Harry Burkitt from the Colong Foundation.

News

Governing body for World Heritage urged to intervene as NSW Gov presses ahead with plan to flood wild rivers

A coalition of conservationists, traditional owners and flood policy experts are seeking international intervention to halt the NSW Government’s plan to raise the Warragamba dam wall, which they say poses an “unprecedented threat to Australia's World Heritage”.

In a joint letter, authored by former NSW Environment Minister Bob Debus, UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee has been urged to request a comprehensive report from the Australian Government on the impacts of the dam raising and a moratorium on any State Government approval processes until the threat to the World Heritage Listed Blue Mountains has been assessed.

The document is co-signed by the principal author of the nomination that successfully saw the Blue Mountains granted World Heritage status, Joan Domicelj, along with traditional owners, ecologists, academics, national environment groups, and leading conservationists including Bob Brown, Professor Brendan Mackey and Christine Milne.

Representatives of the group will travel to Bahrain later this month to the annual meeting of the World Heritage Committee, which along with having responsibility for inscribing sites on the World Heritage List, also can revoke listing or place properties on the list of World Heritage in Danger.

The letter outlines a range of serious impacts on critical ecosystems in the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, more than 1000 hectares of which will be inundated under the plan.

The proposed increased height of 14 metres will also result in flooding 65 kilometres of wild rivers, submerging hundreds of Indigenous cultural sites.

"If the inundation proposal were to proceed the values and integrity of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, Blue Mountains National Park, declared Wilderness, a declared Wild River, National Heritage and the Special Catchment Area would be significantly degraded,” Mr Debus wrote.

“The area proposed for inundation includes up to 1000 hectares of declared World Heritage property and 65 kilometres of wildness rivers and streams.

"We submit that the World Heritage Committee request the Australian Government … agree that a moratorium be placed upon any State approval processes until the World Heritage Committee has been able to consider its position upon the proposal".

Environment and floodplain policy expert, Australian National University associate professor Jamie Pittock, said alternatives must be considered as international best practice moves away from structural flood mitigation.

"Alternatives to raising the dam should be fully considered,” he said.

“Supplying more of Sydney’s water from other sources is one option that would enable enable part of the airspace in the existing dam to be used for flood control.

"Dams do not stop the most severe floods. Wivenhoe Dam did not save Brisbane from flooding in 2011. Flood control dams lead to downstream development on the floodplain that increases risk.

"Best practice in China, Europe and the United States involves restoring floodplains to safely catch and release peak floods."

Colong Foundation wild rivers campaigner Harry Burkitt described the NSW Government's current approach as rushed, ill-considered, and shrouded in secrecy.

“The area under threat is one of the most protected natural areas in Australia — World Heritage Listed, National Park, declared wilderness, declared wild river, and National Heritage — yet the NSW Government is rushing ahead with plans to flood this area to allow development in Sydney’s north west,” Mr Burkitt said.

“NSW Utilities Minister Don Harwin has said the development of the North West Growth sector is reliant upon the dam raising, with a large section of this area on the floodplain.

“But the cost of this development would be inundation across thousands of hectares of wilderness, destroying threatened habitats including threatened grassy woodland communities, home to Sydney's last wild Emu population.

Media contact:
Harry Burkitt
0490010909

Dick Smith: Let’s not raise the dam so that we can have more people in Sydney, let’s actually not have more people in Sydney

Australian entrepreneur, Dick Smith, has thrown his support behind the campaign to save the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area from a NSW Government proposal to raise Warragamba dam wall. Raising the dam wall would flood up to 65 kilometres of wild rivers and streams within the World Heritage Area to justify new urban sprawl across western Sydney floodplains.

Mr Smith spoke to the campaign with veteran environmentalist Bob Brown on a helicopter flight over the southern Blue Mountains wilderness that would be flooded by raising the dam wall.

“The people pushing for the dam raising say it’s a safety issue, and you can use safety to just about justify anything in life, sometimes dishonestly.

“The problem with raising the dam is, when will enough be enough? And I can tell you that for the developers, enough will never be enough - the greed is unlimited.

“They’ll want Sydney to go to 10 million, and then 20 million. So one day you have to say let’s live in balance, and this would be a good example of saying let’s stop now. Let’s not raise the dam so that we can have more people in Sydney, let’s actually not have more people in Sydney.”

Wild Rivers Campaigner, Harry Burkitt, echoed Dick Smith’s call to protect one of Australia's most iconic natural landscapes from the consequences uncontrolled urban sprawl, while emphasising the need to ensure effective flood management in existing downstream communities.

“It is great to have Dick onboard with the campaign given his lifelong advocacy for the Australian environment and his strong connection with the southern Blue Mountains wilderness and its wild rivers. His high profile within the Australian community will undoubtedly benefit the growing momentum against this destructive dam raising project.”

“The prospectus release by Infrastructure NSW on the dam wall raising states that they plan to add over 130,000 people to western Sydney floodplains by 2047 if the dam wall is raised - this is ludicrous. Are we so desperate to overpopulate Sydney that we now want to build houses on low-lying floodplains? We all saw the end result of this flawed developer-driven agenda on the Brisbane River floodplains back in the 2011 floods.

“There has been extensive research done on flood management in the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley, which doesn’t involve raising Warragamba dam wall. A $57 million NSW Government strategy developed from the findings of ‘Achieving a Hawkesbury-Nepean Flood Management Strategy’ in 1997 did not find in favor of raising Warragamba dam wall. A recent study by the Institute of Sustainable Futures at UTS also identified a range of alternative flood management strategies using Warragamba dam without raising the dam wall.”

Dick Smith speaking on the proposal: https://youtu.be/R0Iqfu8nFmI

Media contact:
Harry Burkitt
0490 010 909

Hawkesbury City Council votes down motion to support raising Warragamba Dam wall

Hawkesbury City Council last night voted down a motion to support the raising of the Warragamba Dam wall. Councilors voted 5-7 to reject a Liberal motion to support the dam wall raising, with numerous Councillors voicing concern that they were being asked to vote on a proposal they knew very little about.

Colong Foundation spokesperson, Harry Burkitt, said that no one would expect Hawkesbury City Council to support a Government dam building idea when the community knows very little about it.

“The Hawkesbury City Council is being asked to support a near billion-dollar dam idea that has had no thorough business case, EIS or feasibility study presented on its viability.”

“Of course the council should support better flood management, but they should not be frog-marched into a corner by dangerous developer interests set on covering the floodplain with housing.”

“Rigorous consultation is needed where the interests of community members can be heard over Government backed developer interests on the floodplain.”

Councilor Wheeler referred to fundamental contradictions in Infrastructure NSW documentation, highlighting that while Infrastructure NSW says they want to reduce impacts of floods in the valley, their reports also condones new urban development on the floodplain.

“Either the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing, or we are getting sold porkies.”

Councillor Reynolds said that while the NSW Government was touting a near-billion-dollar dam idea, it was not funding important flood evacuation infrastructure for existing communities.

“If the State Government were not spending their time grandstanding on this project and funded evacuation routes in the valley now, the community would be a lot safer.”

Gundungurra traditional owner, Taylor Clarke, said she was pleased to see the Hawkesbury City Council reject the dam wall raising, but was still waiting for a commitment by the NSW Government to not flood her people’s last remaining cultural sites in the Burragorang Valley.

“Despite the fact no thorough feasibility study has been undertaken by Government, Infrastructure NSW keep saying to traditional owners that raising the dam wall is a foregone conclusion, and that fighting it is pointless.”

Colong Foundation spokesperson, Harry Burkitt, also outlined the contradictory arguments being put by Infrastructure NSW regarding the welfare of downstream communities.

“We have a NSW Government hell bent on using the dam wall raising to justify new urban-sprawl across western Sydney floodplains. All the while downstream communities who are said to benefit from the dam wall raising are expressing serious doubt over the validity of the idea. They don’t want to see thousands more residents in their community exposed to an unacceptable flood risk.”

“The prospectus released by Infrastructure NSW on the dam wall raising states that another 130,000 people will be housed on the floodplain by 2047 - it’s just ludicrous.”

Media contact:
Harry Burkitt
0490 010 909
harry@colongwilderness.org.au

MEDIA RELEASE: Bob Brown and Bob Debus to launch campaign to save Blue Mountains wild rivers

The Colong Foundation for Wilderness will be launching its Wild Rivers Campaign in the Blue Mountains later this month. Dr Bob Brown and Bob Debus AM have thrown their support behind the conservation group’s push to save 65 kilometres of World Heritage Listed wild rivers from the proposed raising of Warragamba Dam wall.

Wild Rivers Campaign Manager, Harry Burkitt, said he was excited to have the two environmental greats at the launch of the campaign.

“The two Bob’s have contributed huge amounts to the protection of Australia’s environment, and it will be a pleasure to have them both in conversation on saving Sydney’s wild rivers from this environmentally disastrous dam project.

“Bob Debus quashed the same proposal back in 1995 when he was Environment Minister, and Bob Brown led the national campaign to save the Franklin River in the in the early 1980s - we really couldn’t be in better company on the night.”

Mr Burkitt said the campaign aims to save the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area from destruction by NSW Government plans to rise Warragamba Dam wall for flood mitigation.

“There would be over 65 kilometres of wild rivers and 4,700 hectares of Blue Mountains National Parks submerged and scared under the equivalent of two Sydney Harbours if the dam wall was raised – that’s twice the length of the Franklin River that was under threat in the 1980s.

“The NSW Government seem to think they can destroy Australia’s ancient World Heritage landscapes to justify squeezing masses of new urban-sprawl across western Sydney floodplains. It just doesn’t stack up.”

Mr Burkitt said the NSW Government’s 700-million-dollar splurge on raising the dam wall flew in the face Australia’s world heritage obligations.

“If the dam raising were to go ahead it would be an international environmental disgrace to Australia. Thousands of hectares of declared World Heritage Area would be submerged, buried in mud and destroyed forever.”

The event will be held at the Blue Mountains Community Hub & Theatre in Springwood on March 26. Doors open 6:15pm through 8pm. Free admission.

Media contact:
Harry Burkitt
0490 010 909
harry@colongwilderness.org.au

Wild volunteer campaign launched!

Volunteer involvement forms the heart of all community campaigns. The Blue Mountains' Wild Rivers Campaign, a Colong Foundation campaign formed to protect 65 kilometres of world heritage rivers in the Blue Mountains, is looking for volunteers to baulster its campaign to save 65 kilometres of world heritage rivers from a dam.

Wild Rivers Camapginer Harry Burkitt said that the volunteer offers were rolling in thick and fast.

"We have already had large volunteer support for the campaign to date, and it is now a matter of activating those volunteers who are invigorated to be part of the big fight ahead to save out World Heritage Area.

"As campaign manager, I simpily couldn't run the fight without them. Our payed staff play an impotant role, but these guys are the grass-roots base of the movement.

Mr Burkitt said the volunteer camapign will be aiming big for 2018, with the run up to a State and Federal elections.

"The coming 12 months will be key to the sucess of the camapign, and having a large group of volunteers engaging in conversations on the street, running events and fundraising are the nuts and bolts of an effective environmental camapign."

You can sign up for volunteering on the wirld rivers website at www.wildrivers.org.au/volunteer

Media contact:

Harry Burkitt
0490 010 909
harry@colongwilderness.org.au

Join the campaign