No lake fund­ing

Central and North Burnett Times - - NEWS - Erica Mur­ree

THE Coal­stoun Lake Devel­op­ment Group’s fea­si­bil­ity study fund­ing has been over­looked in favour of sugar cane tri­als in Gayn­dah by Isis Sugar.

Flynn MP Ken O’Dowd an­nounced Isis secured a $1.23 mil­lion grant to in­ves­ti­gate ac­cess to wa­ter stor­age in­fras­truc­ture in Gayn­dah last month.

This opened up the pos­si­bil­ity of 6800 hectares of sugar cane be­ing planted.

The Cen­tral and North Bur­nett Times caught up with Mr O’Dowd to ask why Coal­stoun Lakes fund­ing was for­got­ten about. Q: Why was the fund­ing de­nied? A: Ken O’Dowd: The Coal­stoun Lakes district is home to some of the most fer­tile vol­canic soils in the coun­try and wa­ter has al­ways been the lim­it­ing fac­tor to their pro­duc­tion of re­li­able high-value crops. While I am very sup­port­ive of any project that may in­crease the eco­nomic pro­duc­tiv­ity of our re­gion, the re­al­i­ties of cost/ben­e­fit are al­ways go­ing to be taken into ac­count when at­tribut­ing tax­payer funds.

The first round of Na­tional Wa­ter In­fras­truc­ture Fund grants were for fea­si­bil­ity stud­ies into wa­ter projects to de­velop agri­cul­ture. The Fund took 60 ex­pres­sions of in­ter­est for fund­ing in this round; these ex­pres­sions were pit­ted against each other in a com­pet­i­tive process be­fore a panel of ex­perts. Of the suc­cess­ful projects, one is in the North Bur­nett.

The Gayn­dah wa­ter in­fras­truc­ture project is an ex­cit­ing op­por­tu­nity to de­velop pre-ex­ist­ing in­fras­truc­ture to en­hance the ca­pac­ity of Claude Whar­ton Weir and in turn see rich agri­cul­tural in­vest­ment within an im­pres­sive time frame. This is an ex­cit­ing prospect for the North Bur­nett and I will be watch­ing for the re­sults of the study. Q: Is there another round that fund­ing could be looked at? A: Ken O’Dowd:

There is not likely to be fur­ther fea­si­bil­ity fund­ing from the fed­eral gov­ern­ment. There is, how­ever, the op­por­tu­nity for the Coal­stoun Lakes Devel­op­ment Group to ap­ply for fund­ing in the Cap­i­tal rounds – they will have to fund their fea­si­bil­ity study from else­where.

PHOTO: ERICA MUR­REE

FER­TILE LAND: This group have a bird’s-eye view of the Coal­stoun Lakes val­ley, which is call­ing out for a con­stant sup­ply of wa­ter.

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