Opposition Leader Luke Foley.
COUNTRY Labor has ruled out supporting the Needles Gap and Cranky Rock dam proposals, saying a dam is not the way forward.
A statement by Opposition Leader Luke Foley pledged to explore all water security and management options for Orange before pursuing the construction of a dam.
Mr Foley undertook to pursue a NSW Heritage listing for Cliefden Caves to recognise their historical and geological significance and said a proposal including the inundation of the caves would not be supported.
“Damming a river should always be the very last option on the table, given the irreparable destruction that dams cause to the local river system and native animal and plant species,” he said.
“We can have economic growth and development and protect the environment at the same time.
“I believe this is an important test case for our state about the approach we will take towards balancing the two.”
Labor candidate for Orange Bernard Fitzsimon said even if the dam wall was lowered to protect the caves, the Cranky Rock proposal would not work.
“It’s a relatively shallow dam as it is,” he said.
After member for Calare John Cobb told the ABC’s 7.30 program “three projects” were in need of water when discussing the benefits of a dam to the mining and agricultural industries, Mr Fitzsimon said he believed much of the water would be used for private interests.
“We bought back licences from farmers to allow adequate flows to the Murray-Darling Basin system, but now they’re saying they’re going to give it to the mines,” he said.
He believed the answer was stormwater harvesting, recycling and finding more effective usage options.