Queensland's Coordinator-General has approved the $47 million 15 Mile Irrigated Agricultural Development project at Hughenden.
State Development Minister Cameron Dick saying it will be one of the largest employers in the region once fully developed on the Flinders River near the Old Richmond Rd 12km north-west of town.
"The project will create up to five jobs during its five-year construction phase and 77 jobs during the initial three-year development phase," Mr Dick said.
"At full operation, the project will support a workforce of 165 staff, which is equivalent to 21 per cent of the total workforce in Flinders Shire.There are also attractive flow-on benefits to other industries in the region associated with agricultural supplies and transport."
Mr Dick commended Flinders Shire Council for providing access to reliable water supply and suitable cropping land.
Flinders Shire mayor Jane McNamara said it was great news for the shire.
"We applied to become a coordinated project on August 14 last year after the vegetation management laws changed, which means the coordinator general's office became the peak body for all government departments for the project," Cr McNamara said.
"This will be the first high value agricultural irrigation project in the Flinders River catchment."
Minister for Agriculture Mark Furner said the project will enable the production of various low-volume, high-value agricultural crops.
"This includes table grapes, citrus fruit and avocados, all within an irrigated agricultural precinct of around 900 hectares," Mr Furner said. "It will result in greater returns and outcomes for Flinders Shire when compared to broad acre, low-return crops and will contribute an additional $8-9 million annually to the gross agricultural production value of the shire."
The Coordinator-General assessed the project through the Impact Assessment Report process with conditions limiting the extent of vegetation clearing and protect wetlands, watercourses and remnant vegetation in areas less suitable for irrigated agriculture.
Around half the site will be set aside for environmental purposes such as native vegetation protection and buffers to watercourses and wetlands.
State MP Robbie Katter said the approval was a start to open up the potential for agriculture in the North West and laid the platform for the HIPCO project.
"The ultimate aim is to lay the tracks of irrigation and secure water for broad-scale opportunities; that will only happen through the building of large dams and the lead project so far is the HIPCO scheme," Mr Katter said.
"We don't want the state government patting themselves on the back now and saying now they having delivered on agriculture - there is a lot more work to be done."
Construction of the project is expected to commence by the end of 2019.
The project is set to include:
- 300 hectares (ha) of developable land for high-value horticultural crops
- 150 ha of land for farming infrastructure and dams
- 450 ha of land for environmental protection purposes
- Production bores, dams, pumps and an irrigation network
- A couse cooling, packaging and logistics facility
- Staff amenities and caretaker accommodation
- Machinery and chemical storage sheds
- Power supply infrastructure
- Public and internal access roads
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