7 projects, $17.9m: How council will jump start region
SEVEN key projects are set to boost economic and social recovery, if Somerset council can secure millions in funding.
At a special meeting yesterday, Somerset Regional Councillors identified four infrastructure, two environmental and one economic project for the Local Economic Recovery Program.
If council’s first submission is successful, they will secure $9.89m million in funding.
The council will also contribute $8.09m if they are awarded the grant, bringing the total to $17.98
The program is a funding initiative of the Australian and Queensland governments through its Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements.
Council’s CEO Andrew Johnson said they were taking a proactive approach to lodge early expressions of interest.
“The funding specifically relates to supporting projects that contribute to local and regional economic and social recovery in areas most severely impacted by the 2019 Queensland bushfires,” Mr Johnson said.
“Our community was adversely and significantly impacted by these bushfires including loss of grazing land and fencing which resulted in major economic impact, causing our fire-affected farmers to de-stock at considerably lower prices.
“It means we know first-hand the devastating impacts bushfires have on our regional community and we need to do whatever we can to support our community and build resilience into the future.”
Somerset Mayor Graeme Lehmann said council intended to submit more projects for consideration as per the funding guidelines prior to submissions closing in early September.
“Our immediate focus was getting in early with projects we see as vital for economic and social recovery in Somerset,” Cr Lehmann said.
Here’s the projects Somerset council will put forward:
LOCAL BUSINESS RECOVERY OFFICER
Following bushfires and the coronavirus pandemic, the council will request funding for a local business recovery officer.
It’s proposed the officer will be responsible for co-ordinating and undertaking an economic development program and business recovery activities within the Somerset region, helping local business rebuild.
Council predicts the position to continue until June 2022.
Total estimated cost: $475,000
MINDEN VILLAGE SAFETY ROUTE – ZABELS ROAD
Residents living in Minden Village have just one road in and out – not ideal in an emergency.
The second project Somerset Council wants to take on is reconstructing Lowood Minden Road and Zabels North intersection to meet safety standards.
The town has a history of flood and fire risks along with a fatality and two hospitalisations from vehicle accidents in the area.
With 2707 vehicles, on average, using the road daily, it’s predicted the project would reduce crashes on Lowood Minden Road by more than 12 per cent.
Total estimated cost: $1,373,900
LOWOOD MINDEN ROAD – LITZOWS TO LUKRITZ ROAD
Widening and sealing sections of Lowood Minden Road is predicted to reduce crashes by 41 per cent.
The project continues on from the Minden Village safety route, providing residents with better access in and out of the village in case of emergency.
At present, the lack of sealed shoulders means emergency services aren’t able to provide vital services in a quick response time frame.
Total estimated cost: $5,272,600
ESK CROWS NEST ROAD STAGE 1
After the catastrophic Pechey bushfires destroyed thousands of acres of land, council plans to develop the road for improving emergency service time response between Toowoomba and Somerset council areas.
By sealing the road, it would allow for a quick response time for emergency services and link the two council areas.
Total estimated cost: 4,611,521
ESK CROWS NEST ROAD TOOWOOMBA BOUNDARY STAGE
The second section of the Esk Crows Nest Road would include widening and bitumen sealing the road connecting the two council areas.
It backs onto the first stage of the Esk Crows News Road plan to improve safety to residents and emergency services.
Sealing the road would also provide a cost saving opportunity for farmers and road transport operators who will be able to take a shorter route between the two council areas.
Total estimated cost: $4,110,423
GREEN ARMY BUSHFIRE RISK MANAGEMENT PROGRAM
A Green Army project will provide job opportunities to 44 people in a bid to improve bushfire risk management in the Somerset.
Green army teams would be tasked to undertake a series of six-month deployments across the Somerset region to improve bushfire resilience, firebreak management and help facilitate infrastructure projects.
Total estimated cost: $1,700,000
MOUNTAIN TO MOUNTAIN TRAIL DEVELOPMENT
Earlier this month, Somerset Regional Council purchased Mount Glen Rock with the ambition to turn it into a recreational reserve.
The stage one plan involves constructing a nature reserve development in Esk and will also focus on building a multi-use highland trail.
Funding for the project would also help plan for future stages of the development, including a reserve, infrastructure, and walking trails.
Total estimated cost: $421,801