A community meeting in the Blue Mountains on Friday heard numerous concerns about a cultural impact report over proposed plans to raise the Warragamba Dam wall.
Around 100 people gathered in the New South Wales town of Faulconbridge for a community consultation meeting, with both the Blue Mountains City Council and Wollondilly Shire Council mayors in attendance.
The meeting was an opportunity for locals to publicly voice their concerns about the proposed plans.
At the forefront of concerns was the small amount of time that Traditional Owners said they were given to read through and provide a response to the government’s draft Aboriginal cultural heritage assessment report.
Gundungurra woman and Traditional Owner Kazan Brown told NITV News they were given 42 days to reply to a 2,000-page report. Ms Brown said more than half of that time was taken up in trying to understand the academic language.
“It’s a very hard document to understand, it is very technically written. It isn’t written for a normal person to read through,” Ms Brown said.
“It took about 30-odd days to read through it and understand it. That gave us about ten days to respond.”
Ms Brown said she wasn’t able to take the report to a local expert to help in understanding the document because it was confidential, which also prevented her from seeking any sort of advice on how to respond.
A spokesperson for WaterNSW told The Guardian that they were already granted an extension period of 14 days.
“Given the length and detail in the report, a longer period than the mandatory 28 days was allowed for this process,” it said.
Friday was the deadline for Traditional Owners to respond to the assessment report.
Ms Brown said if she was granted more time to provide a response she would withdraw her initial submission and re-write it.
“I would also like to be able to have an expert help us or even have an expert review this report,” she said.
The state government has plans to raise the wall by at least 14 metres in effort to reduce the risk of downstream flooding in the Hawkesbury and Nepean river plain.
This in turn could destroy thousands of years of Indigenous heritage left in the area.
Give a DAM campaign manager Harry Burkitt previously told NITV News that more than 300 Aboriginal cultural sites could be inundated if the dam wall is raised.
The Berejiklian government has come under fire over the proposal, with Traditional Owners, community members, activists, local councils and UNESCO criticising the NSW government's plans to raise the wall.