Bob Carr, the former New South Wales premier and foreign minister, has written to Unesco urging it to send a mission to the Blue Mountains to assess its world heritage status, warning it could be badly affected by the proposed heightening of the Warragamba Dam.
According to Guradian Australia, Carr, who was premier when the greater Blue Mountains region was inscribed on the world heritage list 21 years ago, said the area had been badly affected by the 2019-20 bushfires – which he described as “by far the worst in Australia’s history” – and parts would be flooded if the dam wall was raised, as proposed by the Gladys Berejiklian government.
The letter is dated 14 July, two days before the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) world heritage committee began a two-week meeting in which it will consider a recommendation to list the Great Barrier Reef as “in danger”.
Carr said a recent draft Unesco assessment of the Blue Mountains did not “recognise the urgency of threats facing the property”.
“It is deeply disturbing to me that the environmental protections established by my government for the Blue Mountains have been undermined in recent years, particularly through the proposed raising of the Warragamba Dam wall,” he wrote in the letter, which was also sent to all member countries on the world heritage committee.
Carr told Guardian Australia the area to be flooded was an “an area of priceless beauty, and one of the last undammed rivers in eastern Australia”.
“I’ve hiked the area. It’s an astonishing reminder of Australia pre-1788,” he said. “If someone had told me 35 years ago that in 2021 we would have been debating about the value of protecting this wilderness I wouldn’t have believed it.”
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