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The building of Parkes as an economic powerhouse on foundations of its transport hub has taken a leap ahead with the New South Wales government’s 20-year regional plan.
The plan, called A 20-year Economic Vision for Regional NSW and to be driven by the new $4.2 billion Snowy Hydro Legacy Fund, sees the state’s first "special activation precinct" formed, deputy premier and minister for regional NSW John Barilaro has announced.
"Today we are putting our money where our mouth is, announcing that the first allocation of money from the Snowy Hydro Legacy Fund will be spent investigating and planning for a special activation precinct including an inland port in Parkes," Barilaro says.
"A special activation precinct would offer a coordinated approach to land use and infrastructure planning, and attract major employers, drive local economies and create jobs across the Central West.
"Special activation precincts is just one part of the vision and the beginning of a massive program of work to transform regional NSW."
The funds will be invested in identifying how best to deliver an economic special activation precinct and inland port in Parkes, to take advantage of its location on the Brisbane to Melbourne Inland Rail, and facilitate agricultural value-adding, allowing local products to be delivered locally and internationally more efficiently.
A business case for investment will be finalised within 12 months.
Pacific National CEO Dean Dalla Valle believes the 20-year economic vision for regional NSW will encourage private sector investment in freight networks and services.
"A key part of the government’s vision is to streamline planning processes to help turbo-charge delivery of critical freight-related infrastructure in regional NSW," Dalla Valle says.
Dalla Valle describes the move as a "tripling down on good ideas" encompassing the Parkes Shire Council’s National Logistics Hub, Canberra’s $10 billion Inland Rail project, and now a 20-year economic vision for Regional NSW.
"Efficient supply chains in regional NSW will only be delivered if all levels of government work closely with private companies with expertise in providing freight services," he adds.
Pacific National has already invested an initial $35 million to develop one of Australia’s largest interstate intermodal freight terminals in Parkes.
"Our terminal is strategically positioned within the Parkes National Logistics Hub to access the future Inland Rail corridor, the Trans-Australian Railway line to Perth, and the Newell Highway – Parkes sits at the epicentre of the nation’s freight network," Dalla Valle says.
Terminal construction is to begin in September, with 1,800 metre trains starting services between Parkes and Perth in early 2019.
"Today’s announcement by the NSW Government provides Pacific National with added confidence to continue investing to a level which could enable 450,000 cargo containers to be processed each year through our logistics terminal at Parkes," Dalla Valle says.
Local government also welcomes the state government’s direction.
"Parkes is already experiencing heightened interest from logistics firms and other industry around the Parkes National Logistic Hub, encompassing land adjacent to the existing East-West rail line and the proposed Inland Rail route," Parkes Shire Council general manager Kent Boyd says.
"The special activation precinct and inland port will attract further major employers, driving the regional economy and creating jobs across the Central West and neighbouring regions.
"This special activation precinct around the Parkes National Logistic Hub is the realisation of a long-term community vision that has been top-of-mind since the railway went through Parkes in the 1800s.
"It is our region's Snowy 3.0 and will have the same impact to that the Snowy Hydro Scheme had for our nation in the 1950s."
Boyd notes that 65 per cent of produce leaves the region without value-adding and is priced based on the world market, forcing producers to "accept low market prices".
"The Parkes inland port and special activation precinct opens up the opportunity for the Central West to access higher value markets, enabling our farmers to be price makers, not price takers, which is especially important during challenging times such as the current drought," he adds.
A 20-year Economic Vision for Regional NSW identifies four ‘megatrends’ challenging the state’s regions — the rise of Asia, rapid urbanisation, demographic and social change and digital disruption — with transport and logistics seen as crucial to the response.
Under the plan, over the next five years, the state governments pledges to investigate inland intermodals near the production of agricultural products and more efficient transport between inland intermodals and global gateways.
The following five years will see attention is to turn to optimising or increasing container flows through ports and what benefits that can be realised from Inland Rail.
For the 10 years after that, it will be more efficient east–west transport connections, including between inland NSW and Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong, plus theair freight potential in regional areas.
This article first appeared on www.fullyloaded.com.au
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