They’ll build dam at gates of hell before we get one in NSW

NSW Farmers President James Jackson has asked the NSW Government to give an update on its pledge to ‘build more dams’ after Queensland was given billions in pre-election funding.

On Wednesday Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced $5.4 billion to build the giant 2100-gigalitre Hells Gates Dam northwest of Townsville, which would open up 60,000 hectares of irrigation farming. It came just a week after the federal government promised $483 million towards the construction of Urannah Dam near Mackay.

Mr Jackson said building more dams to secure agricultural production made a lot of sense in Australia, but he questioned the NSW Government’s progress on similar projects.

“We’ve been told Dungowan is underway, the wall of Wyangala Dam will be raised and we’ll get a dam on the Mole River near Tenterfield, but there’s no clear timeline on when they’ll be completed,” Mr Jackson said.

“It’s been years since the drought broke and we’ve seen a tremendous amount of rain fall over the past few months, and I think it’s prudent to ask where we’re up to on capturing some of that water?

“I’m deeply concerned that NSW may be getting hung up on spreadsheets and biodiversity offsets calculators while other states are busy with bulldozers.”

The NSW Government’s dam-building projects were announced by former Premier Gladys Berejiklian ahead of the 2019 state election, and while some announcements about sod-turning had been made, Mr Jackson said there needed to be transparency on the progress.

“Dams can deliver a quadruple benefit for NSW, they deliver a mechanism for storage of domestic and irrigation water but also in an uncertain future they are flood mitigation tools and a critical part of the energy solution with pumped hydro being a great battery for reliable energy,” Mr Jackson said.

“There is a clear appetite for the construction of these dams and there has been a commitment from the government to build them, but no clear commitment to when they’ll be finished.

“We’re three years into this term of government and we can’t afford to let NSW get left behind on building these dams.”

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