Ayres' office dodges dam questions

EIS condemned: Various groups have spoken out against plans to raise Warragamba Dam wall. Picture: Wolter Peeters
EIS condemned: Various groups have spoken out against plans to raise Warragamba Dam wall. Picture: Wolter Peeters

The office of Western Sydney Minister Stuart Ayres has refused to answer questions regarding criticisms levelled at the recently-released Environmental Impact Statement for the Warragamba Dam wall-raising proposal.

Mr Ayres, who is overseeing the proposal, called the release of the EIS in late September "a significant milestone in the delivery of raising Warragamba Dam wall".

He described the document, which is thousands of pages long, as an "extensive, even exhaustive, environmental impact statement".

However, despite the Advertiser repeatedly requesting comments from his office in the past week, staff did not respond to questions.

The Advertiser asked Mr Ayres to address the many and varied condemnations of the report and the proposal, which is intended to mitigate flood risk in the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley downstream of the dam.

The project has drawn criticism and concern from Indigenous residents, scientists, environmental action groups, local councils, politicians and even UNESCO.

Silent: The Advertiser received no response to questions from Stuart Ayres' office. Picture: Natalie Roberts

Silent: The Advertiser received no response to questions from Stuart Ayres' office. Picture: Natalie Roberts

Issues and criticisms include the threat to native ecological communities, including flora and fauna, which would likely be rendered extinct by inundation upstream; the loss of significant Indigenous cultural heritage sites in the Blue Mountains which would be flooded; insufficient assessment of upstream areas in the EIS; and even misrepresentation of figures in the EIS.

Questions levelled at Mr Ayres included: 'why has the government continued with the proposal despite widespread condemnation, 'are you confident all other flood mitigation methods have been exhausted, 'why should people still have confidence in the proposal in light of widespread criticism' and 'what would you say to claims the project is primarily being pursued to allow for more housing in the floodplain'?

A staff member told the Advertiser Mr Ayres' office had passed the questions along to Infrastructure NSW instead of answering them.

However, no responses were received by either group up to the extended deadline of 10am Tuesday.

This story Ayres' office dodges dam questions first appeared on Wollondilly Advertiser.