Hurdles to clear before the South Rocky flood levee realised
THE South Rockhampton Flood Levee is creeping towards realisation but Rockhampton Regional Council still has some hurdles to clear.
It has taken years to realise the project to flood-proof a large section of South Rockhampton and with all levels of government now on the same page and working together, a progress update has been provided to The Morning Bulletin.
RRC has construction scheduled to start in October 2019, and subject to Commonwealth funding, is forecasting the levee to be complete in early 2022.
Not prepared to wait for government funding to arrive into its bank account, the council has commenced work on the early works drainage package, which includes storm-water drainage and back-flow prevention devices.
Rockhampton Region mayor Margaret Strelow provided an insight into some of the challenges in making the project a reality.
"If there's been a hold-up, it's been from the council end as we've been updating the design because of consultation with local property owners, especially around things like access," Cr Strelow said.
"This is important though, so it's been necessary to take the time to do this. And we are progressing with the purchase of property.
"The cost to purchase properties is not allowed to be funded by grants but had been separately allowed for in our overall budget for the project."
She said council was considering what impact these changes might have on the overall budget for the levee.
"We won't have a final figure until tenders have been received," she said.
"We're still looking at a program that will see us shifting dirt hopefully in the third quarter of this year, so we'll keep working closely with all levels of government to keep the project moving."
The next step towards construction was for a wider consultation process which was due to start in late March or early April as part of the planning approval process.
"The State Government has declared it a prescribed project to fast track the approvals but like any major infrastructure project, there are legislated time-frames for consultation which we need to stick to," Cr Strelow said.
Rockhampton MP Barry O'Rourke said the Queensland Government agreed to provide $25million back in July 2017 as part of its response to Tropical Cyclone Debbie before declaring the levee a "prescribed project" last November.
"That means the independent Coordinator General can accelerate approvals required under state law," Mr O'Rourke said.
"A project of this complexity will require multiple regulatory approvals including under the Water Act, the Environmental Protection Act, the Planning Act, and the Transport Infrastructure Act.
"A prescribed project declaration means the Coordinator General can ensure these approvals under state law are resolved in a timely manner and includes empowering the Coordinator General to step in and decide approvals directly."
Mr O'Rourke said the proposed South Rockhampton Flood Levee still required the Federal Government to match the Queensland Government's funding commitment of $25 million towards the project.
Capricornia MP Michelle Landry said she was very pleased to lend her support to RRC's application for funding under the Regional Growth Fund last year.
"It was a great thrill to be able to announce that of just 16 projects across the country announced (in October) as successful in RGF, the South Rockhampton Levee was one of them," Ms Landry said.
"The Council is now proceeding with the business case process, which is the important, and confidential, second stage of the application.
"I have full confidence in the council and the work they have undergone to deliver a competitive project with a very strong business case and I look forward to having more to say about this important project soon."
Ms Landry said the project would deliver for Central Queenslanders on a number of fronts.
"This is a project not only about protecting homes in low-lying Depot Hill, but also about protecting businesses, and keeping the Bruce Highway - and therefore Queensland - open for business," she said.
"It's construction will deliver local jobs, right where they are needed most and I really think the levee will help improve Rockhampton's reputation as a destination for business, for tourism, and for families to travel to and to stay."