Hon Bob Debus|
Minister for the Environment
PO Box A290
Sydney South NSW 1232
I refer to the media release concerning the public meeting held in Kangaroo Valley on 16 August, and to a telephone call that I received from your advisor, Ted Plummer on 17 August in relation to its contents.
Ted Plummer is of the opinion that the media release misrepresents the situation and that you are indeed prepared to address a public meeting in Kangaroo Valley later in the year when the results of studies are complete. He interprets your phrase "meet with people" as being prepared to address a public meeting and accused me of playing with semantics.
As you are aware, over a month ago I specifically asked yourself and Graeme Head to address a public meeting in Kangaroo Valley and you both declined to do so. At your briefing in Nowra, I questioned you about the phrase "meet with people" and you declined to commit to this being a public meeting. At last night's meeting I used your own words to advise the meeting that you have said you are prepared "to meet with people in the Kangaroo Valley later this year when some key studies are complete." (Ref your letter to me dated 13 July 2005.) It was evident from the mood of the meeting attended by approximately 200 residents that this is inadequate for people who stand to suffer damage to homes, property and businesses by the announced plans to raise the dam level. I have tried to make this clear on a number of occasions to yourself and to Graeme Head.
I need to alert you to the mood in Kangaroo Valley about the perceived lack of consultation. The actions of your Government have placed members of the Lake Yarrunga Taskforce under significant pressure within the community. Some community members think our efforts over 18 months to negotiate with the Government and Government departments have been a waste of time. Indeed that we are naive and have been conned. We have been under pressure in the last week to withdraw from the Reference Group which is perceived as inadequate consultation and a rubber stamp. Our personal views on the Reference Group are that we are prepared to assess the situation as time goes by. However, regardless of the existence of the Reference Group, this is not considered by the community to be "public consultation", no matter how well we report back through our local newspaper.
Let me assure you Minister that we take our role very seriously and try to represent the position of the Government and its Departmental staff accurately at all times. There was no intention to misrepresent the situation in the media release and we resent that accusation.
Unfortunately we are left in the position of having inadequate information and being unable to assuage the fears of residents which are totally understandable in the present circumstances. I attach a list of questions that have previously been forwarded to Graeme Head and I understand raised with you by Mayor Greg Watson. We request that answers be provided to these questions as a matter of urgency.
In addition, we extend to you an invitation to address a public meeting in Kangaroo Valley between 16 November and 2 December, subject only to the availability of the Community Hall.
Tel 44 651010
Cc Graeme Head, General Manager SCA
Will there be a full EIS ? If not, what issues that were required prior to the amendment to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act will not be assessed?
What protection from flooding will there be for buildings in the village?
Will the government guarantee that the scheme will not proceed if any homes will have increased likelihood of flooding?
How long will the river be closed for recreational use? (2 years has been mentioned as the construction period
Will there be compensation for businesses adversely affected by these proposals?
How do businesses plan advance advertising, such as yellow pages which has to be booked months in advance at huge expense?
How will the integrity of the heritage listed Hampden Bridge be protected? The previous bridge which was only slightly lower than Hampden Bridge was taken out by flood waters.
What would happen to the current SCA set-back around Lake Yarrunga? Would additional land be resumed to create a higher set-back? What compensation would there be for landowners?
What action would be taken in relation to houses around Lake Yarrunga and the Kangaroo River that would be affected by a raising of the dam wall and by floods that occurred following any raising of the dam wall?
As flooding is not covered by insurance, will the Government compensate affected owners for any damage to property?
Any raising of the dam wall will affect facilities at the Hampden Bridge, Bendeela and the Tallowa Dam picnic areas and car park. How and where will these facilities be replaced?
Has the RTA been consulted on the probability of increased frequency and duration of closure of Moss Vale Road during flooding?
Have SCA taken into account the data of the SCC Flood Study which is now nearing completion?