Big Rocks top priority for Towers

Big Rocks Weir as first stage of Hells Gate Dam project a priority for Charters Towers

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The site of the proposed Big Rocks Weir near Charters Towers.

The site of the proposed Big Rocks Weir near Charters Towers.

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An irrigated agriculture project with the power to unlock 5000 hectares of land is at the top of Charters Towers Regional Council's wishlist ahead of the upcoming state election.

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AN irrigated agriculture project with the power to unlock 5000 hectares of land is at the top of Charters Towers Regional Council's wishlist ahead of the upcoming state election.

Mayor Frank Beveridge said the realisation of Big Rocks Weir would provide long-term water security to the community and trigger agricultural development leading to over 400 full time jobs post construction.

"Our first and foremost item continues to be water security through the delivery of Big Rocks Weir which is so fundamental in nature, it has the power to unlock opportunities across multiple industries: irrigated agriculture; intensive farming; agricultural-based tourism; and various supporting commercial and industrial developments," Cr Beveridge said.

Big Rocks Weir has been identified as the logical first stage of the Hells Gate Dam proposal in a $2.2 million feasability study completed in July 2018.

The study found the $5.35 billion project to be economically viable and had the potential to contribute up to $1.3 billion to North Queensland's GRP annually.

"The completed Hells Gates Dam feasibility study identifies a clear staged path to development with the systems most southern weir (Big Rocks) being identified as a natural first phase pilot," council's state election priorities publication states.

"When developed, Big Rocks would be a pilot project and could be completed within a more reasonable time frame than the entirety of the Hells Gates Dam project and $50M was committed to this first phase of development in November 2018."

Charters Towers council is continuing to advocate to be the proponent of Big Rocks Weir, pending a favourable business case.

They are vying to be lead during construction and be the owner/operator once completed.

The state election priorities publication identifies another nine key priorities, including lifestyle, infrastructure, transport and health issues.

"Support is also sought for the long-living issue of drought; impacts of flying foxes on our community; transport infrastructure upgrades, specifically on the Gregory Development Road, as highlighted in the 2019 flood event; continuation and realisation of key funding opportunities that work for local government; a new hospital and associated essential services; and of course, a new town pool," Cr Beveridge said.

"These priorities will improve livability in our region and will offer further lifestyle and employment opportunities."

Cr Beveridge said he would send the priorities publication to all sitting state government ministers ahead of the October 31 poll.

"I look forward to advocating on behalf of both council and our region to progress these important matters," he said.

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