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Traditional land owners call for moratorium on Warragamba Dam wall plan

Traditional land owners have called for a moratorium on the plan to raise the Warragamba Dam wall after Wednesday's findings from the Federal Parliamentary Committee on Juukan Gorge.

It found that "the ultimate cause of the destruction of the caves was that insufficient value has been placed on the preservation of Indigenous culture and heritage".

The committee also recommended that "the Australian Government seek to legislate a prohibition on agreements that restrict traditional owners from publicly raising concerns about heritage protection or exercising their rights under heritage legislation".

Gundungurra spokeswoman and community leader Kazan Brown called on these findings to be applied through legislation and cultural heritage assessment practises in NSW.

Ms Brown said she hoped to see a moratorium specifically on the proposal to raise the Warragamba Dam wall by 17 metres.

"We truly hope these findings will shine a bright light on the disingenuous and flawed proposal to raise the Warragamba Dam wall and its associated assessment process," the Warragamba resident said.

"We call on these strong findings to be applied in the case of the Warragamba Dam wall raising proposal, which by the Federal Government's own leaked estimates would see the destruction of over 1200 Gundungurra rock art sites, occupation shelters, archaeological deposits and burial locations from inundation by dam waters.

"Raising the Warragamba Dam wall would result in an additional two Sydney Harbours of dam water eroding, scarring and killing the plants, animals and rock shelters that are the last remaining connections to our lands in the southern Blue Mountains."

Ms Brown said the only difference between the Warragamba proposal and the destruction of Juukan Gorge is that the Gundungurra sites are located within a declared World Heritage area.

"The best recommendations the Infrastructure NSW dam-builders and their consultants have come up with is that they will let us tell kids in our local school about the culture genocide we will endure from this project," she said.

"Despite recently sending a letter to all concerned state and federal ministers clearly stating that we do not give 'free, prior and informed consent' for this project to proceed, our meeting requests have been ignored by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Ken Wyatt."

The state government originally proposed raising the dam wall to mitigate the risk of flooding in the Hawkesbury region.

However indigenous residents, scientists, environmental action groups, councils, politicians and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) have raised various concerns about the plan.

A NSW Government spokesman told the Advertiser earlier this year that the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley was the most flood-exposed region in NSW, if not Australia.

"More than 130,000 people currently live and work on the floodplain," he said.

"Research has shown the proposal to raise Warragamba Dam to temporarily hold back floodwaters is the most effective long-term option to reduce flood risk and protect lives, homes and livelihoods.

"The impacts of a temporary increase in upstream inundation - and options to manage, mitigate or offset those impacts - will be detailed in the EIS currently being prepared.

"The NSW Government looks forward to the public exhibition of the EIS, which will allow all interested stakeholders to provide comment when all information is equally available.

"The final decision on the dam raising proposal will only be made after all environmental, cultural, financial and planning assessments are complete."

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