The Wentworth Group and the Environmental Defenders Office were cited twice in the NSW Legislative Council during debates on the 5 and 6 May 2021 regarding water modelling transparency and amendments to regulate floodplain harvesting. The statements gave the impression that we have received extensive information that is not in the public domain. This is factually incorrect. We have received briefings related to specific concerns about ‘priority of use’ and modelling, as well as information regarding flood structures. We thank the NSW Government for providing responses to some of our information requests, but note that key information and data we requested were not supplied. We were particularly concerned to learn that some of the information sought could not be supplied because the NSW Government did not have it. There remains extensive information needed to evaluate the scientific and legal implications of this policy that we do not have nor is in the public domain.
The information received, and information gaps, have reinforced our views that there are systemic problems with the proposed licencing framework. A major problem is that it is based on modelling which does not incorporate the return of floodplain flows into the river. This renders the modelling – and by consequence, the licencing framework – incapable of properly addressing environmental and downstream impacts. We would like to take the opportunity to put the facts on the public record.
Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists and the Environmental Defenders Office