More jobs are coming to north Queensland with the Coordinator-General approving the $47 million 15 Mile Irrigated Agricultural Development project.
The project will be located on the Flinders River around 12 kilometres north/north-west of Hughenden, with State Development Minister Cameron Dick saying it will be one of the largest employers in the region once fully developed.
“The project will create up to five jobs during its five-year construction phase and 77 jobs during the initial three-year development phase,” Mr Dick said.
“At full operation, the project will support a workforce of 165 staff, which is equivalent to 21 per cent of the total workforce in Flinders Shire.
“There are also attractive flow-on benefits to other industries in the region associated with agricultural supplies and transport.
“The Palaszczuk Government is a job-creating government, and we’ll continue to back big regional projects like this to put more Queenslanders into work.
“This is also a great example of a local council with limited resources taking the initiate to drive a unique, jobs-sustaining project,” he said.
“Flinders Shire Council should be commended for providing access to reliable water supply and suitable cropping land, making it easier for our government to progress this exciting agricultural development for the region.”
Minister for Agricultural Industry Development Mark Furner said the project will enable the production of various low-volume, high-value agricultural crops.
“This includes table grapes, citrus fruit and avocados, all within an irrigated agricultural precinct of around 900 hectares,” Mr Furner said.
“It will result in greater returns and outcomes for Flinders Shire when compared to broad acre, low-return crops.
“It’s anticipated the project will contribute an additional $8-9 million annually to the gross agricultural production value of the shire.
“This is an increase of around 12 per cent on the current contribution of irrigated agriculture and grazing production to the local economy, which is really positive news for our state’s north.”
The Coordinator-General assessed the project through the Impact Assessment Report process, an efficient and fit-for-purpose approach that allowed for a decision to be made within 11 months.
Conditions of the project limit the extent of vegetation clearing and protect wetlands, watercourses and remnant vegetation in areas less suitable for irrigated agriculture.
Approximately 49 per cent of the site will be set aside for environmental purposes such as native vegetation protection and buffers to watercourses and wetlands.
Subject to approvals, construction of the project is expected to commence by the end of 2019.
The project is set to include:
- 300 hectares (ha) of developable land for high-value horticultural crops
- 150 ha of land for farming infrastructure and dams
- 450 ha of land for environmental protection purposes
- Production bores, dams, pumps and an irrigation network
- A co‐use cooling, packaging and logistics facility
- Staff amenities and caretaker accommodation
- Machinery and chemical storage sheds
- Power supply infrastructure
- Public and internal access roads