Labor calls on the NSW Government to list Cliefden Caves on the State Heritage Register

In Parliament | 21.10.16

Labor candidate for Orange, Bernard Fitzsimon, and Shadow Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Penny Sharpe MLC, today visited Cliefden Caves with local environment groups and the Save Cliefden Caves Association to call on the NSW Government to act to put the Caves on the State Heritage Register and to reaffirm Labor’s opposition to dam proposals for the Belubula River.

In February 2015 the State Heritage Register Committee stated that “Cliefden Caves Conservation Area is of similar significance and importance to the well-known State Heritage listed Jenolan Caves. The Cliefden Caves are considered significant primarily for their natural history, research potential and rarity values.”

The Committee then resolved that Cliefden Caves Conservation Area is of state significance and the nomination for listing should proceed. Since then there has been no action from the NSW Government to progress the nomination.

Today Labor also reaffirmed the commitment made at the 2015 election to explore all water security and management options for Orange before considering or pursuing the construction of an environmentally destructive dam on the Belubula River.

Labor and Mr Fitzsimon have committed to:

  • ensuring the Orange community has a secure water supply; exploring all other options for water security before a dam is built – new dams are the most expensive and environmentally destructive solution to water security;
  • opposing any proposal that will inundate Cliefden Caves, including the Needles Gap and Cranky Rock proposals; and
  • pursuing NSW Heritage listing for the Caves in recognition of their historical and geological significance.

Cliefden Caves is one of the most cavernous limestone areas in the state and home to more than 100 pristine caves, internationally significant fossils that are 450 million years old, a rare thermal spring, a habitat for threatened bat species, and historic cultural sites.

Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for the Environment and Heritage Penny Sharpe MLC

“The failure of the NSW Government to act to have Cliefden Caves nominated for state heritage listing is a travesty.

“These caves represent a significant and unique site for New South Wales, as well as being a precious scientific resource and important cultural site.

“Failure to act on the expert recommendations of the State Heritage Register Committee demonstrates that the Government is trying to push through the dam proposal with no assessment of heritage, scientific or environment values.

“Today we call on the Baird-Grant Government to step in and have the Caves placed on the NSW State Heritage register.”

Quotes attributable to Labor candidate for Orange, Bernard Fitzsimon

“Our local communities are the custodians of Cliefden Caves, and people from Orange and across the Central West have come to me to support keeping this incredible asset safe before it is lost forever.

“We know that dams cause irreparable destruction to local river systems and native animal and plant species, so the damming of a river should always be the very last option on the table.

“I will ensure that Orange has a secure water supply but not at the expense of other users, the environment, or the scientific opportunities that the Cliefden Caves present.

“Cliefden Caves needs heritage listing, not inundation solutions from the National Party caught in the past and with no solution for the future.”