By Dan Hunt, Granite Belt Irrigation Project, Chairman

October is shaping up to be a fruitful month for the Granite Belt Irrigation Project (GBIP) with the announcement GBIP has received endorsement for Ministerial Infrastructure Designation (MID) from Queensland Treasury.

GBIP will deliver Emu Swamp Dam, a landmark infrastructure development for the Granite Belt region, which will provide 12,000 megalitres of water storage, south-west of Stanthorpe, and a 117km pipeline distribution network.

Our submission for endorsement was made after consultation with the Southern Downs Regional Council (SDRC). Once approved, MID will simplify GBIP approvals by eliminating the need for individual Development Applications at state and local levels, across the life of the project.

We expect an announcement from Queensland Treasury by mid-2021, following a comprehensive approval and consultation process.

GBIP is a strong candidate for MID, given the benefits it will bring to the Granite Belt region, including providing water security to around 50 agribusinesses and boosting the value of annual gross agricultural production by $68 million.

This major development occurred as we mark the mid-way point of finalising water sales with local irrigators. This is due for completion by the end of October – this will enable the project to finalise the pipeline route and progress government approvals, specific to the distribution network.

Two other important pieces of work which are also progressing are the renewal of GBIP’s Cultural Heritage Management Plan and resubmission of approvals under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

These are important steps towards completing the GBIP and achieving its significant impact on the region by increasing water reliability by 40 per cent, generating 700 new long-term jobs and creating a new tourism attraction. These benefits will all have flow-on effects to improve the prosperity of the broader Granite Belt community.

I encourage community members to visit the GBIP office at 3/35 Maryland Street, Stanthorpe (office hours include 10am to 2pm, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday) or visit the GBIP website for more information.

This month also marks the International Day of Rural Women and I am delighted to celebrate the critical role women play in the Stanthorpe community, including in our GBIP team.

I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the women who are contributing to driving this project forward: Board Member Leeanne Gangemi, Project Administrator Margôt Tesch and Project Admin Support Amanda Harrold, Media Adviser Stacey Wordsworth, Accountant Lisa Carnell, and Media Officer Hannah Hardy. As the project develops and our team grows, we are committed to continuing to support female professionals and engineers.