MEDIA RELEASE: Belubula Alliance welcomes NSW Labor announcement on Belubula River dam and Cliefden Caves

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Friday 21 October 2016

The Belubula River Alliance welcomes the NSW Labor Opposition’s announcement to oppose plans to construct a dam on the Belubula River, and to protect the unique Cliefden Caves site with a NSW Heritage Listing.

As part of the announcement, Alliance member groups have spoken out as to why they believe a dam on the Belubula should not be built.

Joe Maric of the Central West Community Union Alliance reflected on the short term and unsustainable nature of jobs in dam construction. “The Cranky Rock dam proposal will do nothing for job creation, in a region that’s been devastated with job losses”. He further added that “The cost of this proposal would be far better to inject into local projects, which would see the creation of much needed jobs.”

Bev Smiles, President of the Inland Rivers Network reflected on the larger scale issues facing the Murray Darling Basin. “Large instream dams are very costly to the riverine environment and to downstream communities. The Murray Darling Basin does not need a new dam.”

Harry Burkitt, Secretary of the Save Cliefden Caves Association echoed Labor’s call for a State Heritage Listing of the cave and fossils site, saying “A NSW Heritage Listing would ensure the protection of a natural wonder for future generations”, adding that “Labor’s announcement puts the protection of the Belubula River and Cliefden Caves firmly in the political spotlight.”

Cilla Kinross, President of the Central West Environment Council, said “The Central West Environment Council does not support new large dams on rivers because of the environmental damage they cause.”

Ian Curtis, President of the Orange Speleological Society, was concerned about the possible flooding and silting of the Cliefden Caves. “This is a very valuable research area. Should the caves be flooded, caves and karst will be affected; bat habitat and maternity sites for vulnerable species will be destroyed.” He said “The fossils at Cliefden are as significant as those in the Canowindra Age of Fishes Museum.”

The national caving body, the Australian Speleological Federation, also spoke to the geological significance of the Cliefden Caves. Nicholas White, the organisation’s Conservation Commissioner, said “The Cliefden Caves are extensive and exhibit a complex development history, having an extremely diverse range of speleothems and cave fauna.” Mr White further stressed the need to protect the site. “The caves are simply too valuable to be flooded by a dam on the Belubula River."

Nick King of the Environmentally Concerned Citizens of Orange, said “The Belubula is already extensively dammed. Damming of the river will put at risk the ecology and habitat of important riverine and wetland environments, as well as impacting on the access to water for downstream water users.”

A press conference will be held at 11:00am, Friday 21 October at the Cliefden Caves site, with Penny Sharpe (NSW Shadow Environment and Heritage Minister) and Belubula River Alliance member group representatives attending. For directions and further information on this event, please use the contact details below.

Media contact: Harry Burkitt secretary@savecliefdncaves.org.au 0490 010 909


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