Consultation sought over Needles Gap Dam proposal

Member for Calare John Cobb discussing the Needles Gap Dam proposal with Blayney mayor Cr Scott Ferguson in January. The proposal has received funding for a feasibility study in this year’s state budget.Local landholders are hoping they will be consulted during a million-dollar feasibility study into the Needles Gap Dam proposal.

The state minister for natural resources, lands and water Kevin Humphries announced the $1 million feasibility study into the proposed Needles Gap dam as a part of the 2014-15 state budget handed down on Tuesday.

The announcement comes amidst a storm of criticism concerning the proposed project’s impacts on nearby Cliefden Caves.

Anthony Dunhill, whose Mandurama property encompasses part of the cave network, said the impact of the dam on the caves could be “fairly severe” but so far, landholders have been kept in the dark.

“The dam would certainly flood a large area of the caves,” Mr Dunhill said.

“Geologically, they’re quite unique and to see them flooded would be a disaster really.”

Mr Dunhill said the height of the dam wall would affect the dam’s impact on the caves system however thus far they’ve been given nothing.

“There was a plan a couple of decades ago to build a dam in the area and going off that is the only information I’ve had,” Mr Dunhill said.

“No one has given us any details and no one has spoken to us.”

Funding had already been promised for the Dam proposal by Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner last Friday.

On Monday night, Federal Member for Calare, John Cobb, spoke in Parliament about his delight that the Needles Dam proposal would become a reality.

Mr Cobb started by acknowledging that “There are times in the life of a politician, like any other person, when you feel you just cannot go on. But there are other times when it is all worthwhile, and last Friday was one of those times”.

“Last Friday was certainly a great day for Calare, the entire Central West and for me personally to see something you believe in wholeheartedly get the attention and result it deserves,” Mr Cobb said.

In his speech Mr Cobb thanked those who had supported his campaign along the way and acknowledged the general manager of Central Tablelands Water, Tony Perry.

Blayney Shire Mayor Cr Scott Ferguson also welcomed the funding announcement.

“The announcement of funding for the proposed Needles Gap Dam, to be located on the Belubula River, is very welcome news for the communities of the central west,” Cr Ferguson said.

“A project of this magnitude is a once in a generation opportunity and the foresight shown by the state government to fund water security for future generations is a great example of identifying the needs of a region.”

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