UN ‘concerns’ over dam proposal puts Blue Mountains World Heritage status on notice


June 09, 2019 13:18:07

A UN report assessing the state of the Blue Mountains’ World Heritage listing has raised “concerns” about the proposed raising of the Warragamba Dam.

Key points:

  • The raising of the Warragamba Dam is being proposed to stop flooding and increase water supply for Sydney
  • Opponents are concerned over its environmental and cultural impact
  • The UN report has asked to review any environmental impact assessments before any decision is taken

The report, released for a World Heritage Committee meeting in Azerbaijan on Friday, is used to assess the state of properties on the list across the world.

In a three-page focus on the Blue Mountains’ status, the report highlighted multiple concerns for the area and called on the on both the New South Wales and Federal Governments to send it any environmental impact statements before any decisions on the Warragamba Dam were made.

It comes as hundreds attended a rally in the Blue Mountains today to protest the Warragamba Dam proposal, which will see the dam wall raised by 14 metres to help water retention and as a means of stopping flooding in north-west and western Sydney.

The Warragamba Dam is used to supply water to Sydney — but indigenous leaders in the area fear it would result in the upstream inundation of significant cultural sites.  

Penned through the UN’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) arm, the report said it was “concerning” that various reports had all confirmed the raising of the wall would result in “increased frequency and extent” of temporary inundation in the area.

“Such inundation of any areas within the [Blue Mountains] property is likely to impact on its outstanding universal value (OUV),” it said.

“It is therefore recommended that the committee request the [NSW and Federal Governments] ensure that, in line with its commitment, all potential impacts on the OUV are assessed in detail by the environmental impact assessment, which will be submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review [prior] to taking any final decisions regarding the project.”

Water NSW and Infrastructure NSW are preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposal, due sometime this year.

The raising of the dam wall is a contentious issue in the community, with opponents predicting it will push critically endangered species to the brink.

As well as assessing the dam wall issue, the UN report also raised concerns that “several mining projects” existed in the vicinity of or adjacent to the Blue Mountains area, highlighting the impacts of the 2015 dam wall collapse at Clarence Colliery.

It also made a request to review the anticipated airspace and flight path operations, once available, for the Western Sydney Airport proposal.








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