Shire seeks support for inland port

Elle Farcic and Brendan LeicesterCountryman

A bold multi-million dollar plan by the Shire of Cranbrook to transform its town centre into an inland grain-handling port has received mixed support from other local shires in the area.

Shire of Broomehill-Tambellup president Barry Webster said he supported the project, but was concerned whether the proposal would have backing from key players.

“The shire is in favour of this large-scale proposal under the Voluntary Regional Organisation of Councils agreement,” he said.

“It’s a major visionary project that has many upsides for the region. The Shire of Cranbrook is driving it as part of a regional plan, but I guess time will tell if it’s got any legs.”

Cranbrook Shire president Doug Forrest met CBH representatives to discuss the concept and to see where the company stood.

CBH grain operations manager Max Johnson said the idea could put Cranbrook on the map if it was supported by industry players.

“It is a fantastic vision, great blueprint, great initiative and I hope they can make it work,” he said.

“CBH will do whatever it can to try and assist, but we still have not made a call on whether we build in Mirambeena or at Cranbrook.”

The decision will depend on freight rates, but Mr Johnson said it would be about 12 months before CBH had any idea of what the freight rates would be at both locations.

Two grain handling companies, one based in Australia and one in South-east Asia, have expressed interest in the Cranbrook inland port concept.

Mr Forrest said Cranbrook Shire had requested $50,000 in Royalties for Regions funding, which would be put towards a feasibility study.

“It will examine our land availability, planning process and factors like water, power, roads and rail,” Mr Forrest said. “We need to get all that within one study so we can show them what we can do and what is possible if they invest with us.”

Shire of Katanning chief executive Dean Taylor said the project had yet to be considered, because it had not received enough information on the proposal to weigh up the possible pros and cons.

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