The NSW Greens and the Save Cliefden Caves Association are celebrating revelations a new dam at Cranky Rock near Canowindra which would have flooded the caves is no longer a preferred option to increase water security in the Lachlan Valley.
NSW Water Minister Niall Blair revealed on Tuesday tat the NSW Government had taken the Cranky Rock proposal off the table as it would take decades to be approved because of “green” and “red” tape.
“This dam was always an ill-considered proposal that wasn’t going to stand up to due process,” Caves Association president Harry Burkitt said.
“No matter the dam design or location, we knew there would be serious impacts on Cliefden Caves if a dam on the Belubula River got the green light,” Mr Burkitt said.
Cliefden Caves includes more than 100 recorded caves, almost as many karst features, a rare thermal spring, and is home to 15 confirmed species of microbats.
All would have been flooded if the Cranky Rock Dam was constructed.
Instead Mr Blair says the State Government is proposing to increase the wall height at Wyangala Dam near Cowra by 10 metres.
NSW Greens Rural Water spokesperson Jeremy Buckinghaman also welcomed the news.
Mr Buckingham said the decision, made five months out from a tight State election, confirms the Greens’ suspicion that the original Needles Dam and the Cranky Rock alternative were nothing more than ‘back of the beer coaster’ proposals.
“Nothing gets between the National Party and hole in the ground or a new dam or both,” he said.
“When the Nationals are under pressure, they quickly fall back on the same formula of more dams, regardless of whether they’re necessary or adversely impact on the community and nature.
“If they’d listened to the Greens years ago when we first raised our objections, the community would have had greater certainty and alternative water security measures could already have been in place.
“NSW does not need new dams, we need smart local water solutions such as stormwater harvesting, increasing efficiency and recycling.
“The Liberal/Nationals have been in government for seven years but they forgot to forward-plan for drought.
“The Nationals are still in denial about climate change despite drought and extreme weather and the reality of its impacts hitting home to many on the land. They are nowhere to be seen when it comes to protecting communities from misuse and theft of water by the mining industry or big irrigators.
“There’s a natural fit between the increasing concern about natural cycles and the need for climate action, which will give farmers and the Greens more in common than ever before.
“The Nationals should be damn worried that regional communities will wake up to the fact they’ve lost touch and vote them out at the next election,” Mr Buckingham said.
Mr Burkitt praised members of the Caves Association for working to stop the Cranky Rock proposal.
“Together we have been able to push the NSW Government into scraping this destructive dam proposal once and for all,” Mr Burkitt said.
“If it were not for the 20,000 plus supporters across Australia who joined the campaign over the last four years, the fight to protect this unique part of Australia’s heritage would not have been possible,” he said.