We welcome today's 2020 State Election commitment from the Leader of the Opposition, Deb Frecklington MP towards a state-wide water scheme which centers around Hells Gates Dam.
The $20M plan is an update on the Bradfield Scheme, proposing to double the height of the Hells Gates Dam to over 120m, drawing water from the South Johnstone, Tully, Herbert and Burdekin rivers into a lake potentially twice the size of the Burdekin Falls Dam. Significant hydro-electricity generation is also a part of the plan created from gravity fed water pipelines.
Along with local stakeholders, including Charters Towers Shire Council, land holders, and our political representatives, Townsville Enterprise has been a part of driving the Hells Gates Project for more than five years. The development of water infrastructure is critical to the north and this announcement has the potential to power the north and expand our agricultural production for generations.
Hells Gates is a project that exists beyond the electoral cycles. It is a once in a generation project that complements the Burdekin scheme and offers the potential for major new agricultural opportunities to open up in our region and export high value crops into emerging markets into the Asia-Pacific.
In November 2018, the Morrison Government committed $54M towards Phase 1 of the Project in agreement with the Federal Member for Kennedy Bob Katter MP, which included $30M for the first stage of Big Rocks Weir at Charters Towers – a component of the Hells Gate Project that has been championed strongly by Charters Towers Mayor, Liz Schmidt. The remaining $24M is for engineering, construction, enhanced economic modelling works, environmental surety and satisfaction of cultural heritage interests quantifying the Hells Gates Dam program.
We look forward to meeting with the Opposition Leader to hear more about this new policy and how it could complement the current program of works for Hells Gates, including the Business Case and the first phase construction of Big Rocks Weir.
We note the Opposition Leader mentioned commissioning CSIRO to progress today's announcement. Given the $24M in funding from the Federal Government for the current business case Townsville Enterprise is project managing, it would be important to ensure we are coordinated in our efforts.
Townsville Enterprise would welcome an expansion of the project scope to properly examine key aspects of this revised Bradfield Scheme and the opportunities it presents to open up vast areas of regional Queensland and Australia for farming.