The Australian and NSW governments have co-funded a $2.5 million Bushfire Industry Recovery Package grant that will seal a five-kilometre section of Clarence Way.
Councillors resolved to apply for the funding at the June 2020 CVC meeting.
The council will contribute $2.5 million in matching funds, comprised of $1 million from Section 7.11 contributions (charged where there is a demonstrated link between the development and the infrastructure to be funded); $650,000 from this year’s and next financial year’s asbestos sealing program; and, $700,000 from CVC’s general fund from the 2021/22 financial year.
The funding announcement fills a hole left by a failed application to the Australian Government’s Building Better Regions Fund (which focused on drought regions) for a total of $10 million (including $1.5 million from CVC) to upgrade and seal approximately nine kilometres of Clarence Way north of Copmanhurst.
In relation to CVC’s application to the Bushfire Industry Recovery Package, staff advised councillors that the “upper Clarence Valley area was severely impacted by the drought and bushfires, heavily affecting the agricultural (mainly beef) and forestry estate”.
“A cost benefit analysis … showed a 31 percent decline in agricultural output in 2017/18 and a further 21 percent fall in 2018/19, most of this is in the upper catchments of the Clarence Valley,” staff wrote in the report to the June 2020 meeting.
“A study … found 1,525 square kilometres of forestry land (81% of the total) was impacted by the bushfires and 848 agricultural properties affected.
“This project would reconstruct and seal another five kilometre section of the 20 kilometres of Clarence Way which is still unsealed.
“This will improve the viability of these industries in transporting beef cattle and forestry logs, and has long been lobbied for by the local farming, forestry industry and residential community.
“It would also service key Aboriginal communities at Baryulgil and Malabugilmah and provide a key linkage from the Clarence Valley to Kyogle Shire, which has invested heavily in upgrading the Clarence Way north of the CVC boundary.
“The road also provides a further key linkage to the South East Queensland Bromelton transport hub and industrial area.”
Page MP Kevin Hogan, Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis and CVC mayor, Jim Simmons, were joined by long-time campaigner for the upgrade of Clarence Way, Rod Watters, when they made the announcement.
“This upgrade will improve access to markets through safe and reliable road access for freight, local businesses and the local community,” Mr Hogan said in a media release.
Mr Gulaptis said, “A productive freight industry benefits everyone, from the growers getting their produce and stock to market, to the many employed in freight and related industries, right through to the consumers at the other end of the supply chain.
Councillor Simmons said, “This funding will complete sealing of a crucial five kilometre section which has long been lobbied for by the very significant beef cattle and forestry industry in the area.”