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CVC applies for $58m bushfire economic recovery grants

Clarence Valley Council (CVC) has applied to the $250m Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund (BLER), to fund a backlog of projects at an estimated value of up to $58,217,540.

Council staff have prepared 15 applications across the various project categories – Social Development, Enabling Infrastructure, Natural Environment and Resource Development, Built Environment Adaption, and Industry and Business Development.

To be eligible, projects “must support the recovery of the local community’s economy, social well-being [and] environment, or improve resilience to future natural disasters”.

Projects must be able to “commence within six months of the funding deed being executed … and be completed by June 30, 2023”, the funding guidelines state.

Under the ‘social development’ category, CVC has applied for: $19m to complete the Grafton pool redevelopment; $4.5m to complete the Maclean Community Precinct Plan (upgrade of the Maclean civic hall); $11m to upgrade the Treelands Drive Community Centre to include the Yamba library; and $160k for “community support communications … specifically for emergency support”.

Under the ‘Enabling Infrastructure’ category, CVC has applied for: $980,540 to upgrade the Townsend industrial estate, to “better enable access [for] freight vehicles”; $640k to improve Armidale Road heavy vehicle safety and access; $925k to make flood levee infrastructure improvements at the Alumy Creek and Bakers Swamp drains; $1m to improve catchment, fire and land management, including the installation of fire cameras and rain gauges, and facilitating erosion control works within the inner catchment (Nymboida river weir), to improve raw water quality management; $950k to complete works outlined in the Corcoran Park improvements master plan; $6m to enable the Junction Hill industrial development; and, $500k to improve safety and recreation access on a coastal walk from Pippi Beach to Main Beach.

Under the ‘Natural Environment and Resource Development’ category, CVC applied for $250k for drones, training, accessories, maintenance and improvements to CVC’s new mapping system, Nearmap, which will improve fire management and facilitate “immediate surveillance of bushfire impact on infrastructure and communities”.

Under the ‘Built Environment Adaption’ category, CVC has applied for: $200k to install flood monitoring safety cameras at Esk River and Sandy Crossing, which are described as “important flooded roads essential for evacuations for Iluka and Wooli residents respectively”; up to a total of $5,262,000 for micro grid solar panels (as part of CVC’s greenhouse gas emissions and renewable energy targets), additional solar and battery storage for the new South Grafton depot and floating curtains, which are used during bushfires, droughts and floods to prevent water contamination; and, $1.5m to complete the Brooms Head revetment wall extension.

The council did not apply for grants under the Industry and Business Development category.

The BLER fund is jointly funded by the Australian and NSW governments; its “objective is to support economic and social recovery at a local and regional level in areas impacted by the 2019-2020 bushfires” and to “support job retention and creation … strengthen community resilience and reduce the impact of future natural disasters”.

“The majority of funding should be committed to the areas most impacted by the fires,” the funding guidelines state.

This $250m round of grants is part of the overall $500m scheme.

Forty-seven bushfire-affected local government areas across the state are eligible to apply.

Successful applications are due to be announced “from June 2021”.

Applicants must be one of the following entities: councils; joint organisation of councils; not-for-profit organisations, including business chambers; industry associations and charities; research or academic organisations; state government corporations; and, local Aboriginal land councils.