Northern Grampians Shire Council has welcomed the announcement of a major investment in Stawell, that will have the potential to create up to 500 new jobs.
Councillors and senior officers were overwhelmed with the announcement made on Monday of a new large scale protected cropping project to be built on property in Landsborough/Leviathan Roads.
Sydney-based agribusiness investment firm, Nectar Farms Pty Ltd, announced its intention to lodge a planning permit application to construct a 10-hectare greenhouse facility for the production of tomatoes, cucumbers and capsicums.
This will be the first stage in a $100-million development.
The site, which has been gifted to Nectar Farms by the owners of Stawell Gold Mines, Newmarket Gold, is located just three kilometres east of the town centre.
Northern Grampians Shire Mayor Murray Emerson said the announcement was a huge coup for the shire and he thanked all involved, including Stawell Gold Mines general manager Troy Cole for his company’s commitment to making the dream become a reality.
“We’re very excited to be welcoming Nectar Farms to the Northern Grampians after many months of discussions and planning,” Cr Emerson said.
“Stawell has been described by Nectar Farms as the perfect spot for this investment because of its land, climate, access to utilities, and connection to the transport network.
“We’re very pleased that they’ve chosen to work with us after a lengthy site search.
“There is the potential for this project to create 500 jobs in the long term, which is just huge for a small town like ours.”
Cr Emerson said he was disappointed the state government had not come on board in relation to the development. However, he assured his council would continue pushing for support at state level for the project.
“We have had a lot of discussions with the state government about this development for Stawell,” he said.
“Unfortunately, they haven’t given us the support that we would have expected they would, but we will continue those conversations with them after today.”
Nectar Farms proposes to start constructing by mid-2016 and plans to have 40 hectares of greenhouses built by mid-2019. The planning permit application will now be subject to council’s usual process and will be available for people to view in coming weeks.
Mr Cole said Newmarket Gold Stawell Gold Mines was pleased to be a participant in such a significant announcement.
“We see today’s announcements as a successful outcome of the future possibilities works undertaken by Northern Grampians Shire Council, Stawell Gold Mines and many of those represented today,” Mr Cole said.
“In 2012 I approached Northern Grampians Shire Council in relation to downturn within the Stawell Gold Mines setting. This isn’t too dissimilar to the same discussions which we had with the council in 2007-08.
“As a long standing member within the community of Stawell, Stawell Gold Mines has a social responsibility to participate in the area of economic development as our mine paves the way through the uncertainties and challenges of the minerals industry.
“We trust that our participation within the future possibilities studies and the gesture of gifting a small parcel of land is seen as honouring those responsibilities.”
Mr Cole said the development would help pave the way for the future growth of Stawell.
“It is important for communities to have the capacity for economic diversification to enable sustainability in future growth interests,” he said.
“Today’s announcement should be seen as an important feature of that diversification as we collectively work through our respective projects.
“Congratulations to the community of Stawell, to the Northern Grampians Shire Council and a warm welcome to Nectar Farms as we look forward to good neighbourly relations for many years to come.”