The Baird government has backed down on building a pop-up prison for maximum security inmates in Western Sydney, after strong local opposition to the plans.
NSW Corrections Minister David Elliott announced today (Wednesday) that the new quick-build prison for 400 inmates, which was to be built next to the 200-bed women’s prison at Emu Plains Correctional Centre, would not be going ahead.
The NSW prison population is at record levels and the government is scrambling to deal with the crisis.
A spokesperson for Mr Elliott said the NSW government had received a hydrologist’s report which indicated that the site, which is on a flood plain, was at risk of flooding.
Mr Elliott said: “I have heard community concerns about the proposed expansion and updated flood modelling provided to Justice Infrastructure shows that the flooding risk with the proposed increase in capacity could not be fully addressed at the site.
“We are continuing to look at additional sites to increase capacity in the NSW correctional system.”
He said Emu Plains was chosen for expansion because it was a large open site within the Sydney metropolitan region and would have brought more than 400 new jobs to the local economy.
Mr Elliott said the NSW Government would invest $3.8 billion over four years to provide about 7,000 additional beds across the state to cope with NSW’s increasing prisoner population.
Shadow Minister for Corrections Guy Zangari said the government had been forced into an “embarrassing backflip” because it had failed to consult properly with residents or with its own planning department.
Mr Zangari said the prison would have been built close to an area surrounded by houses, schools and a train station.
“The community is outraged that they were never consulted about this pop-up prison. Now Minister Elliott has been forced into back-flipping on a flimsy plan that lacked detail about keeping nearby residents safe,” Mr Zangari said.
“It took a community backlash to make the minister see sense and ditch this idea. It just goes to show how out of touch he is.”
Mr Zangari blamed the Baird Government for creating “the worst prison bed crisis” in the state’s history. He said 1700 inmates were expected to come into prison corrections next year but only 900 new beds.
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