Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Federal Coalition’s dam plan lacks credibility

“Large dams have not been built in NSW since the 1980s because they are inappropriate, expensive and environmentally damaging,” Keith Muir director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness said.

“The dam proposals leaked by the Federal Opposition today have been around for generations and most have been repeatedly rejected by economists, hydrologists as well as conservationists”, Mr Muir said. 

“Sweeping visions of greening the inland, generating hydro-electricity and making people safe from floods may sound great, but if today’s policy announcement contained any really good ideas they would have been built a long time ago”, he said.

“Proposals to turn northern rivers of NSW inland or generate electricity from tributaries of the Macleay and the Clarence Rivers have been around since at least the 1950s.  There are a lot of problems with these proposals, the main one being enormous cost.  Farmers and taxpayers cannot afford to pump Sydney Harbour sized quantities of water up and over the Great Dividing Range. It will never happen,” Mr Muir said.

“In the case of hydro power, the big rivers of the NSW north coast receive erratic rainfall and so are unsuited to power generation.  HUGE dams are needed and these would produce a small amount of capacity that is only suitable to address the state’s peak electricity demand.  Electricity generators and governments can’t afford to waste large sums money on such concrete monuments.  New big hydro-dams will never be built in NSW”, said Mr Muir.

“That leaves flood mitigation dams.  Here NSW has a choice.  It can either keep urban sprawl off its rich agricultural floodplains through continued good development control and planning regulation, or we can massively subsidise access to flood prone real estate.  We should not be approving further residential development on our floodplains that require massive and costly mitigation works in this ‘environmentally aware’ age,” he said.

“While it is flattering to read that 100 dams have been stopped by the environment movement, it isn’t right. These proposals are nearly all uneconomic, or planning disasters for one reason or another,” Mr Muir said. 

For more information contact: Keith Muir, (02) 9261 2400 (wk) or 0412 791 404 (mob)