Mildura Weekly : Friday January 20 Vol 11 No 11
NEWS 5 FRIDAY, JANUARY 20, 2017 MILDURAWEEKLY.COM.AU LOWER Murray Water (LMW) managing director, Phil Endley, PICTURED, believes agriculture de- veloper interest shown in the organi- sation’s proposed ‘SMP2 – Strength- ening Sunraysia’ project is extremely encouraging. Formal Registrations of Intent (RoI) for the project close next Fri- day, January 27, with the process helping to identify areas of most in- terest to horticultural developers for potential development under SMP2. SMP2 is focused on the long- term development of the district, with the aim to provide benefits to LMW’s existing irrigation customer base. It will look to build on the success of its predecessor – the re- cently completed $120million Sun- raysia Modernisation Project (SMP) – which helped provide 365-a -day water delivery to around 65 percent of the district. “There are some promising op- portunities in horticulture at the mo- ment, and there have been inquiries from developers looking at projects in Sunraysia West, Sunraysia South, Cullulleraine and also in-district,” Mr Endley said. “Our focus is on enriching and diversifying our horticultural base to secure Sunraysia’s long-term sustain- ability, and to build long-term ben- efits for our irrigation customer base and the Sunraysia community. “Developers are urged to visit our website and request the RoI docu- ment. The closing date is fast ap- proaching, and we want to give every- one the opportunity to participate.” Mr Endley said the RoI process was just the starting point to develop a business case for the Victorian Gov- ernment to submit for consideration under the Federal Government’s ‘Na- tional Water Infrastructure Develop- ment Fund’. “The timelines are tight, but we are encouraged by the level of inter- est coming from the private sector, because that is a critical element of making a successful submission,” he said. “As a proponent seeking fund- ing under the capital component of the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund, we need to demonstrate demand for affordable water that will lead to economic de- velopment, and that horticultural developers provide 50 percent of the capital costs.” Mr Endley said the RoI process will inform the feasibility of LMW’s proposal, and the subsequent de- velopment of a business case. The deadline for the first assessment of Australian Government capital fund- ing is March 2017. After RoI’s are received on Janu- ary 27, Mr Endley said the next stage would be to undertake an evaluation of those submissions to guide devel- opment of a business case. “LMW will be engaging with ir- rigators and the community in this next stage, although the response to the request for registration of intent from the private sector is subject to strict confidentiality,” he said. Mildura’s peak development body, Mildura Development Cor- poration (MDC), has also publicly thrown its support behind the SMP2 proposal, with MDC Chief Execu- tive Officer, Jenny Garonne, saying a second-generation SMP was “a once-in-a -generation opportunity to secure long-term sustainability for Mildura’s regional economy.” She said creating a broader and more diverse horticultural base was critical to underpinning the long- term growth of the Sunraysia econo- my. “SMP2 is a terrific opportunity to further develop the water infrastruc- ture of our region,” Ms Garonne said. “It will deliver direct benefits and financial opportunity to growers, but also offers a chance to expand and grow our region through jobs, diver- sification and economic growth. “The original SMP put down the foundations for rebuilding our tradi- tional horticultural base, but SMP2 is the opportunity to strengthen and sustain our city and region for the future.” Ms Garonne said her organisa- tion had received approaches from a number of potential investors about the project, due to emerging agricul- tural market opportunities. “As a region, we have such a strong and successful history in hor- ticultural innovation, development and entrepreneurship – it’s exciting to think SMP2 could present the op- portunity to move to the next stage of our horticultural growth,” she said. “We are well aware there are po- tential new markets emerging for clean, green horticultural produce both here and obviously in Asia. “As a region, we need to posi- tion ourselves to be able to take up the opportunities for the long-term that are now presenting themselves, and SMP2 is a significant part of that picture.” While generally being well re- ceived by the community, and those in the horticulture sector, the pro- posed SMP2 project is not without its critics. Earlier this week the Sunraysia Irrigators Council expressed concern that the potential expansion could have a detrimental impact on the industry, with representatives fearing there “simply isn’t enough water” to sustain significant growth. More information about the SMP2 RoI process is available online at www.lmw.vic.gov.au, or by con- tacting 50513 400. 12-year-olds face charges MILDURA police arrested two children earlier this week after it was alleged the pair lit a fire near the Mildura Waves Complex. The Mildura boys, both aged 12, were seen near the pool at about 11.30am on Tuesday. They were allegedly spot- ted again at 6pm lighting a fire on the Thirteenth Street nature strip. The two were charged with one count of attempted criminal damage by fire and one count of possessing items for criminal damage. They will face a children’s court at a later date. 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