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ICA ends support for Warragamba Dam wall plan

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The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) is no longer supporting a proposal to raise the height of the Warragamba Dam wall due to concerns about the impact on cultural heritage sites in the affected area.

CEO Andrew Hall says in a letter to a NSW Parliamentary committee inquiry that ICA has reviewed its position after a consultation that included meetings with Traditional Owners at key sites.

“We also note reports highlighting concerns within the NSW Government that the current evaluations appear not to have properly taken into consideration cultural heritage values of the surveyed area,” he says.

“Informed by this, the position of the general insurance industry is now that without satisfactory environmental and cultural heritage impact assessments being completed and made public to allow for full and open assessment, the industry is unable to support the proposal as it currently stands.”

ICA advocates for the exploration of alternative mitigation options to reduce flood risks for downstream communities in consultation with the industry and traditional owners.

“The ICA and the insurance sector recognise the inherent flood risk for the Hawkesbury Nepean valley and see the need for an urgent assessment with viable outcomes to allow for satisfactory resolution,” Mr Hall says.

ICA said last October it was undertaking consultations around how a proposal to raise the Warragamba Dam by 14 metres could impact upstream areas and Indigenous heritage sites.

In its submission to the NSW inquiry lodged in 2019, ICA said it supported consideration of the environmental impacts of the proposed wall raising but was concerned there may be “significant misunderstanding or overestimation in the community with respect to how the mitigation may impact the surrounding landscape”.

Insurers have described the existing flood risk on the Hawkesbury Nepean floodplain as the most significant and unmitigated community flood exposure in the country.