Wagin food hub waits for Govt nod

Kate MatthewsCountryman
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The Shire of Wagin is hoping to get a tick of approval for a $4 million grant to turn its dream of a food and fibre processing hub into a reality.

The hub, which is projected to cost $7.2 million, will include a desalination unit, a cogeneration power station and an inland aquaculture system to produce barramundi.

A consortium of partners including Morton's Specialist Seed and Grain Merchants, Wagin Woodanilling Landcare, Murdoch University and McRobert Contracting Services are involved.

Wagin shire president Phil Blight said they missed out on round one of the Federal Government's Regional Development Australia Fund due to a technicality last year but are hopeful of success in round two after spending more time on governance and management structures.

"It's a fantastic concept and we will continue to do what it takes to get funding," Mr Blight said.

"There are two main drivers for the project - firstly to generate cheap electricity to attract industry to town and secondly to continue with dewatering the town site and use that water as a resource."

Since 2005, excess water has been pumped from under the town to a nearby lake to stop salinity weakening building foundations.

The desalination plant will be powered by the cogeneration plant that is able to produce cheap green energy from burning oat husks, straw, mallee and green waste.

Wagin Woodanilling Landcare zone manager Danielle Perrie said the project had regional, State and national significance.

"It addresses the extremely urgent issues currently affecting our region including water and food security, agricultural sustainability and the impacts of salinity," he said.

"To achieve maximum impact, it's imperative that this proposal and industry is supported to make large scale changes to the way food and fibre is produced."

The first round of RDA funding contributed $150 million to projects across Australia with $200 million available in round two.

Applications are due on February 15 with the minister announcing successful projects mid to late May.

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