The long-awaited second stage of the Ord River Irrigation Scheme has begun.
The State Government today announced it would seek private sector expressions of interest to develop up to an additional 16,000ha of land for irrigated agriculture.
Resources Minister John Bowler said this was an important step following the settlement of native title, resolution of Aboriginal heritage and the completion of preliminary engineering, economic and environmental studies.
The Western Australian Government, in collaboration with the Miriuwung Gajerrong people, is keen to see further development of the Ord.
“It is a major step forward for the Ord irrigation area, which has long been recognised as a great opportunity,” Mr Bowler said.
Kimberley MLA Carol Martin welcomed the announcement and the opportunities it would bring to the region.
“This is an exciting time for the East Kimberley, with Wyndham and Kununurra being well placed for growth and prosperity,” Mrs Martin said.
“The project has the potential to bring significant economic and social opportunities and benefits to the region.”
Development proposals will be assessed on how these benefits are maximised and delivered to the local community, particularly to the traditional owners of the land.
“The agreement between the State and the Miriuwung Gajerrong people will facilitate their greater participation in the development of the region and they will have a significant role in the development of this next phase,” Mr Bowler said.
The Ord offers a reliable water source and a proven track record in agricultural production in the existing Ord Stage One area.
The Government will seek expressions of interest from potential investors to develop between 7,000 and 16,000ha of land. Depending on progress by the private sector and Government approvals, farmland suitable for various broadacre, fruit and tree crops could be available for planting as soon as 2008.
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