The outlook for the proposed $1.98 billion Etheridge Integrated Agricultural development on the Gilbert River catchment in Queensland’s north is looking more optimistic this week after the Palaszczuk Labor government signed a memorandum of understanding for the project to proceed – provided environmental impact assessments first give the all clear.
Developer Integrated Food and Energy Development (IFED) is proposing to create a 325,000 hectare agricultural development near Georgetown comprising grazing land, lotfeeding, irrigated sugar cane and guar crops, aquaculture, off-river water storages and vertically integrated infrastructure including an on-site sugar mill, meatworks and a bio-energy plant to convert cane by-product into electricity to help power the operations.
Queensland’s State Development Minister Anthony Lynham this week confirmed the Queensland Government has signed an MOU with the developer IFED, and said the project is currently subject to an environmental impact assessment.
An FNQ agribusiness will commence an environmental impact study for major integrated agricultural production under a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Palaszczuk Government.
State Development Minister Dr Anthony Lynham today released details of the MOU with the proponents of the proposed $1.98 billion Etheridge Integrated Agriculture Project in the Gilbert River catchment near Georgetown. The proposal involves sugar and guar cropping, grazing, meat processing and aquaculture activities.
Dr Lynham said in comparison with the previous LNP government, the Palaszczuk government was laying out a transparent and comprehensive assessment pathway for the project.
“The previous LNP Government signed a secret development protocol with the project’s proponent, Integrated Food and Energy Development (IFED), in November 2013 but the details were not disclosed,” he said.
“The Palaszczuk Government is honouring an election commitment by rescinding this protocol and releasing it.
“If it proceeds, the company believes the project has the potential to create more than 1700 jobs during construction and more than 1000 jobs during operation.”
Dr Lynham said under the proposal water would be diverted from the Einasleigh and Etheridge rivers into two artificial off-stream lakes and channelled to pumping stations which supply irrigation.
He said the MOU provided strong further environmental safeguards beyond the usual EIS processes and the previous LNP Government’s secret water development protocol.
“Our MOU provides for:
an independent scientific assessment of the proposal to ensure that the proposed water offtake is sustainable with the catchment water available
measures to address impacts identified by the environmental impact statement
that proponents pay commercial rates for the water,” he said.
“Most importantly, we require an overall net benefit from the project.
“This government supports jobs, but projects must stack up financially, environmentally and in the public interest,” he said.
Source: Queensland Government