Thursday, March 7, 2024


Mackay and Whitsunday Life

New State Development Areas Set For An Improved Bio-Future For The Mackay Region

Mackay is the latest Queensland city to gain a State Development Area (SDA), with the declaration to unlock land for new industrial development and more jobs.

The Queensland Government has declared a State Development Area across two sites, at Racecourse Mill and Rosella.

The SDA sets aside industrial land to support industry economic diversification, including bioenergy and biofood production.

A $4 million Bioenergy Fund opened late last month, on the 29th February 2024.

Assistant Minister for State Development and Infrastructure and Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert says, “This is something that is really great for our community.

“Mackay has an opportunity to build on our strengths and attract the jobs of the future.

“What we are going to be able to create here will be the new jobs for the kids sitting in our local schools today.

“We’re already producing the raw materials that will mean new jobs, new growth and new opportunities.

“This State Development Area and the Miles Government’s bioenergy fund will support our community to take advantage of future opportunities.”

The SDA sets aside 907 ha of land adjacent to the Racecourse Mill and at Rosella to be rezoned to support value adding to the sugar cane product.

The SDA will see the city become Queensland’s home of an emerging bio commodity industry.

This announcement follows a seven-month investigation by the Office of the Coordinator-General which began in April 2023 and included public consultation and a call for public submissions.

Minister for State Development and Infrastructure Grace Grace says, “Mackay now has a dedicated space to develop its enormous potential as a leader in the bio-industries that are finding new ways to make the food, fibre, feed and fuel the world’s needs.

“The declaration of an SDA across 907 hectares in Racecourse Mill and Rosella means work can now begin on a development scheme to guide future growth.

“Queensland’s sugar industry has a long history of turning waste and by-products from the sugar manufacturing process into ethanol and electricity.

“Our new Bioenergy Fund will support the expansion of these opportunities for the sector and other industries that can turn waste into clean energy.”

The next step will be for the Office of the Coordinator-General to prepare and then consult with the community on a Draft Development Scheme.

Mackay’s sugar industry will benefit from the $4 million Bioenergy Fund, providing matched financial assistance between $250,000 and $2 million for industry to investigate expanding bioenergy generation from biomass waste streams and support technology innovation.

The Fund will prioritise projects that advance biomass-to-electricity conversion technologies and enable growth in the biogas and biomethane sectors, like cane waste to ethanol.

Leading expert in technologies and systems for the development of the bioeconomy, Professor O’hara declares, “We’re working with the canegrowers, the sugar mills and other participants within the region and we’re very keen to help support the great sector, it’s a great opportunity for Mackay.”

Applications can be made for feasibility or technical studies to investigate options and pathways to expand bioenergy generation and support technology innovation in the bioenergy sector in Queensland.

Applications are open for six weeks from the 29th of February.

Caption 1: Assistant Minister for State Development and Infrastructure Julieanne Gilbert

Caption 2: Minister for State Development and Infrastructure Grace Grace

Caption 4: Assistant Minister Julieanne Gilbert, Minister Grace Grace and Professor O’hara, discussing future plans for the SDA. Photo credit: Hannah McNamara

Blueprint Sets Path For A New Industry

Tapping into a share of an emerging global industry estimated by the CSIRO to be worth some $400 billion by 2040, is the driver behind the release of the Greater Whitsunday Biomanufacturing Blueprint 1.0 by the Greater Whitsunday Allilance (GW3).

Greater Whitsunday Alliance (GW3) Chief Executive Officer Ms Kylie Porter said the Greater Whitsunday region has been leading an intensive campaign to establish this emerging industry in the region since 2018.

“Mackay has long been recognised as an ideal location to lead a domestic biomanufacturing sector due to our abundance of feed stocks, sophisticated logistics network of roads, ports and rail as well as a highly skilled, technical workforce.

“When the Queensland Government released the Queensland Biofutures 10-year Roadmap and Action Plan in 2016, our focus became laser-sharp on establishing a biofutures sector in the region and since 2018, we have had a regional working group committed to achieving that goal,” Ms Porter said.

Ms Porter said that over the last six years, the group has led a range of research and evidence building activities to prove the opportunity.

“In 2023, the Biofutures Leaders Group, comprising of regional representatives from government, industry and business commenced preparation of a region-specific Greater Whitsunday Biomanufacturing Blueprint 1.0 to act as a guide to establishing a sector locally.

“The announcement of a State Development Area here in Mackay, covering two sites including Racecourse Mill and Rosella, is another positive step forward in seeing this vision come to life.

“Whilst our region is leading the charge to establish a biomanufacturing sector in Australia, we must continue to act swiftly to make the most of this competitive advantage.

“We are actively working with a range of proponents who are interested in establishing commercial operations right here in Mackay and I am very excited that in the future, the Greater Whitsunday region will be home to a leading global biomanufacturing precinct.”

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