The NSW government has hosed down suggestions it is preparing to walk away from two dam projects it announced at the height of the drought in 2019.

Key points:

  • The Premier says the government will assess the final business cases on merit
  • A NSW Upper House inquiry was critical of both proposals in its final report
  • A Greens MLC says the projects would provide marginal increases in water security at best

Premier Dominic Perrottet has batted back questions in budget estimates about a report that suggested the Mole River Dam project near the Queensland border would be scrapped, and the proposed expansion of Wyangala Dam near Cowra postponed indefinitely.

The estimated cost of the Wyangala proposal has blown out to as much as $2.1 billion, while the Mole River project has attracted fierce opposition from nearby landholders.

But Mr Perrottet has rejected suggestions the projects will be shelved.

“I’m not sure that is the case,” he said.

The Premier said he had not seen the report and the government had not yet made a final investment decision.

“I have not seen the business cases, they’ve not come to cabinet,” Mr Perrottet said.

He confirmed the cost of the projects had increased substantially since they were first announced.

Aerial shot of the Mole River valley, natural vegetation and track down to a farm dam.

The Mole River Dam is being staunchly opposed by local landholders.(Supplied: Terry Cooke)

Critics slam projects as ‘duds’

An Upper House committee has looked into both projects, as well as the proposed new Dungowan Dam for Tamworth, over the last two years.

It concluded more research should take place into the merits of the proposals and questioned whether the Dungowan and Mole River projects were worth the estimated costs.

Greens MLC Cate Faehrmann chaired the inquiry, and said the government’s delay in producing business cases for the projects showed they did not stack up.

“These dams were set to provide marginal – if any – increases in water security at an outrageous price,” Ms Faehrmann said.

A spokesperson for NSW Water Minister Melinda Pavey said the Wyangala Dam wall raising was a critical piece of infrastructure.

“The government is committed to completing the final business case and environmental impact statement as quickly as possible,” they said.

NSW Premier shrugs off questions over future of ‘dud’ dam projects
Source:
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