SOUTHERN FOREST IRRIGATION SCHEME BOOSTED

The Federal Liberal and Nationals’ Government has announced it has committed up to $1 million to finalise the regulatory approvals required for the Southern Forest Irrigation Scheme to progress towards construction.

The approval process will include developing the final business case, design and Environmental Impact Statement, for the agricultural irrigation Scheme situated in the Manjimup-Pemberton region of Western Australia’s South West.

Acting Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the $1 million commitment to the Southern Forest Irrigation Scheme formed part of an expansion of the Government’s National Water Infrastructure Development Fund, also revealed today by the Federal Government, of more than $500 million.

Mr McCormack said the expansion of more than $500 million includes a feasibility component of $30 million, which is being used to support State and Territory Governments with finalising the design and approval of activities which are required to progress critical water infrastructure projects towards construction.

He said water is the life-blood of regional communities and this historic injection of funds will be a game changer for many communities.

“In Western Australia, one beneficiary of this $30 million feasibility component will be the Southern Forests Irrigation Scheme, which proposes construction of a dam and supporting irrigation supply infrastructure to reliably deliver 9,235 megalitres of water annually to support new irrigation in the Manjimup and Pemberton regions, benefitting the horticulture, livestock beef and nursery industries,” Mr McCormack said.

“Through the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund and National Water Infrastructure Loan Facility the Australia Government has already committed $190 million to get construction underway on the Myalup-Wellington Project.

“We have also provided over $6 million for seven feasibility studies to identify potential new water infrastructure projects which could increase water supply and security for farmers, businesses and communities in Western Australia.

“The $1 million we have committed to co-fund the finalisation of the Southern Forests Irrigation Scheme feasibility study further demonstrates that we are getting on with the job of supporting communities to work with States and Territory governments, to identify, plan and build new water infrastructure.”

Agriculture and Water Resources Minister David Littleproud said water means wealth and jobs in the regions.

“As a former rural bank manager, I know the value of a megalitre of water to a rural community,” he said.

“We’re proud to be delivering water and wealth to rural communities.”

Federal Member for O’Connor Rick Wilson welcomed the announcement, saying the project – subject to receiving essential planning approvals and detailed design work – stood to generate a number of benefits for the State’s south-west region.

“If constructed, the Southern Forest Irrigation Scheme will increase water availability to our job-producing regional industries and create up to 150 direct jobs, 75 indirect jobs and up to 125 construction jobs during the estimated two-year construction period,” Mr Wilson said.

“Greater water security will provide growers with the confidence to invest in their business to underpin an expansion of high value irrigated horticulture of up to 1,675 hectares.

“This commitment is part of the Australian Government’s commitment of more than $3 billion to build new water infrastructure and builds on the $865 million the Australian Government is already investing to identify and build new water infrastructure throughout the country.”

The Fund’s expansion to more than $1 billion, as well as the existing $2 billion National Water Infrastructure Loan Facility program, means more than $3 billion is now available from the Federal Government to support State and Territory Governments and their project partners, to build new water infrastructure and provide greater social and economic opportunity for Australians.

Further information on the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund is available at https://infrastructure.gov.au/infrastructure/water-infrastructure/nwi-development-fund/.

Hannah Maguire