NSW authorities ordered to revisit world heritage assessments for Warragamba Dam growth | Surroundings

The New South Wales authorities has been ordered to redo world heritage assessments for its proposed elevating of the Warragamba Dam wall after a federal evaluation discovered it had failed to contemplate the influence on iconic species together with the platypus.

A leaked report by federal surroundings bureaucrats discovered authorities company WaterNSW didn’t adequately assess how its plan to boost the dam wall by 17m might have an effect on the world heritage values of the Blue Mountains.

The failures included not assessing how flooding or modified hydrology would possibly have an effect on the platypus and echidna, and inadequately inspecting how the sight of lifeless timber and shrubs would have an effect on views of the world heritage space from quite a few lookout factors.

“The proposal has not been adequately assessed for the impacts on the World Heritage Space’s nationwide and world heritage values and excellent common values,” officers wrote.

The doc is the most recent in a sequence of state and federal environmental assessments which have discovered important deficiencies within the work carried out by the state authorities owned water company.

Officers have already recognized failures by WaterNSW to correctly assess the influence of the venture on threatened wildlife, together with the koala, higher glider and regent honeyeater, and Indigenous heritage.

WaterNSW commissioned the consultancy SMEC to conduct its wildlife and heritage surveys.

“In case you have been going to summarise the recommendation from all of the state paperwork and the federal authorities, it’s ‘Return and begin once more’,” mentioned Alec Marr, a veteran conservationist and world heritage skilled.

Marr mentioned the failures recognized within the environmental influence assertion have been so broad-ranging they might not be “fastened with a number of tweaks”.

“It must be essentially reformed and a brand new agency must be appointed that’s able to doing the job,” he mentioned.

In its evaluation of the world heritage evaluation for the venture, the federal surroundings division discovered WaterNSW had solely thought-about species listed as threatened beneath surroundings legal guidelines and never all species that have been thought-about to be attributes of the world heritage space.

The platypus and echidna, which aren’t presently listed as threatened, fall into this class.

Officers wrote the omission of the platypus was “notably regarding” as a result of each its meals provide and nesting habitat have been more likely to be affected each upstream and downstream of the venture.

The division additionally discovered WaterNSW didn’t correctly assess how elevating the wall would have an effect on the diversity of eucalypts, one of many excellent values for which the Blue Mountains world heritage space was declared. As a substitute, results on eucalypts had solely been thought-about when it comes to the person species listed as threatened beneath nationwide legislation.

“They’re obliged to cope with these excellent values as specified on this planet heritage declaration,” ecologist Steven Douglas mentioned.

“In the event that they don’t, then the federal authorities couldn’t approve it as a result of it’s not legitimate. That’s what DAWE (Division of Agriculture, Water and Surroundings) is saying.”

Different conclusions the division reached have been that the venture had been inadequately assessed for its results on:

  • A not too long ago renamed species of perch, referred to as the Blue Mountains or Hawkesbury perch.

  • Aquatic macro-invertebrate populations, that are important in feeding habitat for the platypus, Blue Mountains perch and different species.

  • The views over the world heritage space. The division famous the evaluation centered solely on the 2 most incessantly visited lookouts and “quite a few” less-visited look-out factors have been omitted. There had additionally been no evaluation of visible impacts from the air for each sight-seeing and industrial flights.

The division added WaterNSW wanted to conduct a extra complete survey of sacred websites and supply “clear proof” conventional homeowners had consented to the venture continuing.

It additionally mentioned the impact of the venture on crops and animals ought to be reassessed in mild of the 2019-20 bushfires.

A spokesman for WaterNSW mentioned surveys had been carried out in keeping with planning guidelines listed beneath the secretary’s environmental evaluation necessities for state-significant infrastructure tasks.

He mentioned extra research and knowledge sought by companies that went past these necessities have been “a part of the method of acquiring suggestions” from authorities companies and “the place applicable, shall be integrated into the draft EIS”.

“As soon as that course of and any extra research are full, the draft environmental evaluation shall be positioned on public exhibition for additional group enter.”