Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Australian Government on notice of World Heritage threat

"The Colong Foundation is so concerned about the prospect of raising of the Warragamba Dam wall that it sent its Wild Rivers Campaigner, Harry Burkitt to meet with the World Heritage Committee delegates in Bahrain.  The former Environment Minister, Bob Debus, who also attended the meeting, has reported that as a result of these representations, international concerns have been raised over these plans to flood parts of the World Heritage listed property.  His report follows", said Keith Muir, director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness.

The World Heritage Committee of UNESCO was established more than 40 years. The Committee consists at any one time of delegations from 21 member states. It is serviced by a secretariat (the World Heritage Centre) and advised by bodies of international experts including the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS).
National Governments make submissions to the World Heritage Committee, which confers World Heritage status on locations and regions that are assessed to have "outstanding universal value". 
 
There are 19 World Heritage Committee sites in Australia including the Great Barrier Reef, Uluru, Sydney Opera House and the Greater Blue Mountains Region. There are just over 1000 heritage sites around the globe.
 
Contacts:
Tim Vollmer (0404273313)
Bob Debus (0458232673) - leave message on WhatsApp if no answer, traveling over next 48 hours
Begin media release:
 
Former Environment Minister, Bob Debus, says that the Australian Government is now on notice of international concern over the plans of the New South Wales Government to raise the wall of Warragamba Dam and flood areas of the World Heritage Blue Mountains National Park.
 
Mr Debus is leading a delegation of the Blue Mountains Wild Rivers Campaign at the annual meeting of the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO, the organisation that confers World Heritage status upon iconic locations such as the Great Barrier Reef, the Pyramids of Egypt and Yellowstone National Park.
 
"There was great excitement in our community when the Blue Mountains were added to this exclusive list of places with outstanding universal value in 2000, Mr Debus said.
 
"I can tell you that there has been amazement among the delegations of countries on the World Heritage Committee when they have learnt that the NSW Government is prepared to undermine the integrity of Blue Mountains World Heritage by inundating critical areas of the National Park.
 
"The expert advisors to the World Heritage Committee are telling us they have serious concern. The Australian Government will be asked for a report.
 
Mr Debus said the Australian Government would make its own assessment of the NSW Government proposal only after the completion of an environmental impact statement.
 
"The NSW Government are saying they need to raise the Warragamba Dam wall to deal with extreme flood events so that more houses can be built on the flood plain. But in reality a bigger dam can never deal with all flood events. Additional residential development may bring profits to developers but more people will be put in harms way.
 
"One of our greatest concerns is that the NSW Government shows no sign of looking at the serious flood management alternatives that are available. 
 
"Yesterday at the World Heritage meeting, the Australian Government joined others in asking the Government of Tanzania to find an alternative to the construction of a hydroelectric dam in a famous World Heritage National Park." Mr Debus said 
 
"It will be asking much less if it tells the Government of NSW to respect already existing National Park and World Heritage status by avoiding raising the level of Warragamba Dam."

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