Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Government seeks to avoid compensation while claiming cloud seeding experiment safe

The Snowy Mountains Cloud Seeding Bill, currently being considered by NSW Parliament, will allow cloud seeding in Kosciuszko National Park at times when 'increased precipitation is likely to fall as snow.' The NSW Government, however, has no great confidence in this experiment because the Bill seeks to prevent compensation claims for damages.

"It is hypocritical for the NSW Government to protect itself from possible risks of damage claims if the experiment goes wrong, while not fully protecting this sensitive national park from environmental impacts," said Keith Muir director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness.

"The NSW Government ignores overseas experience where the Montana Legislature passed a law requiring an environmental study and a $10 million bond before any cloud seeding could take place. There is also a real risk that the precipitation could fall as rain, not snow, washing away the snow, and jeopardising snow-based recreation as well as the lives of endangered species.

"There will be many people in the Park region asking serious questions about what this trial will mean for them and their livelihood, including those in rainshadow areas," said Mr Muir. "The Snowy Mountains Cloud Seeding Bill proposes that 'cloud seeding operations may be carried out despite any other Act or law.' All environmental protection and pollution control laws, and rights to damages, if the operation causes a loss of income, are swept aside.

"The legislation will only allow suspension of the experiment when there is or is likely to be a significant environmental impact and by then it will be too late. The Alpine area of Kosciuszko National Park is one of the most environmentally sensitive areas in the nation and it is unwise to be conducting risky experiments is such areas," Mr Muir said.

"The cloud seeding can't make snow out of a clear, blue sky when or its too warm for clouds to form snow particles. Snowy Hydro will find droughts and hot weather are beyond control.

"The Government must be suffering from political hyperthermia if it thinks this sort of heavy handed legislation is an answer to climate change," said Mr Muir.

For more information contact: Keith Muir, (02) 9261 2400 (wk) or 9550 3615 (ah)