Frogs won't stop dam plans
NSW Nationals leader John Barilaro says ‘green tape’ is hindering water security.
Ninety-nine per cent of NSW remains in drought and as the crisis is beginning to have a big impact on cities.
Regional centres like Tamworth, Dubbo and Bathurst are could run out of water within 12 months, while towns including Murrurundi, Guyra and Menindee are already trucking in emergency water.
NSW Deputy Premier and National leader John Barilaro says “green tape” is standing in the way of new water storage infrastructure and underground dams.
“Water has now become the number one issue,” Mr Barilaro said this week.
“We're not going to run out of water, we said we're not going to run out of water.
“We will do what it takes in the short term.
“If we don't take the opportunity while everybody is watching to talk about building water storage, dams, pipelines, infrastructure, underground dams, recharging our aquifers, investing in our weirs then we will miss this opportunity.
“We all know that when we talk about dams, it's controversial, it will stoke some emotion in certain communities, but now is the time to talk about it.”
h Mr Barilaro says funding is not the biggest obstacle.
“Money is so cheap at the moment that I'd be open to prosecuting the case to borrow money… [but] it’s the green tape that has stopped us building infrastructure in the past and that's my challenge,” he said.
“We want to get the bulldozers into those projects and if a few frogs have got to die along the way, so be it.
“I don't care about that, I care about making sure we don't run out of water in the future.”
In coming weeks, a $13 million pipeline from Armidale’s dam will begin providing much-needed supplies to Guyra.
Work has recently begun on a $14 million pipeline from Scone to Murrurundi, a few months after the $500 million Broken Hill pipeline came online.
The Broken Hill project caught controversy, with some accusing the NSW Government of making infrastructure investment to cover up its failure to manage the river system.
“I argue this, that pipeline, without it Broken Hill would be out of water today,” Mr Barilaro said.
“We've sometimes got to push through the noise and I call it the white noise.
“If it means a few negative environmental impacts — fine, we wear that and we have to work through that, but at the end of the day I'm looking after regional communities.”