THE first stage of Hell’s Gate Dam in North Queensland will go ahead after Prime Minister Scott Morrison committed $54 million to the project.
Mr Morrison was in Townsville this week, and following meetings with representatives in the area, agreed to fund stage one of the project in Big Rocks Weir.
He also committed $180 million in Federal funding for the Hughenden Irrigation Scheme project.
It comes after a feasibility study into the construction of Hells Gate released last month deemed the $5.35 billion irrigated agriculture and power project on the upper Burdekin River to be viable.
The report said the scheme had the potential to redefine Northern Queensland’s agriculture sector and underpin long term export market growth and investment.
Charters Towers Regional Council Mayor Liz Schmidt has said Big Rocks Weir was the community’s most important infrastructure project.
“Water security, especially for agriculture, will be a major issue into the future,” Cr Schmidt said.
“Phase One of the Hells Gates project would see the realisation of our community’s single most important infrastructure project – Big Rocks Weir.
“The establishment of a vibrant agriculture industry associated with the realisation of the Hells Gates Dam project and the development of Big Rocks Weir will have a direct and enduring positive impact upon the economy of Charters Towers and North Queensland.
“Big Rocks Weir would not only provide the Charters Towers community with a long-term water security solution but would also act as a first phase pilot project supportive of fast tracking the development of up to 5,000 hectares of arable land adjacent to the Hells Gates project’s most southern weir.
“Phase One including the Big Rocks Weir, is exactly the type of project we need to help secure our economic future.”
Funding for the Hughenden Irrigation Scheme will un-tap the Flinders Shire’s proposed 918-hectare irrigated agricultural development at 15 Mile.
The plan is to start a table grape, citrus and horticultural industry on the banks of the Flinders River.
In August, the State Government declared it a coordinated project and offered assistance to council to help it get across the line.
Kennedy MP Bob Katter received a letter from Mr Morrison committing to the funds.
Mr Katter had demanded the government commit to projects in the North to secure his support so the Liberal party could maintain the balance of power after losing the Wentworth by-election.
Mr Morrison acknowledged Mr Katter’s support in providing stability to the government when committing to the funding.
The funding for the projects is for all regulatory, compliance, pre-construction and capital works.