Council's bold plan to floodproof businesses, save jobs
TWEED Shire Council is moving to make sure local businesses' futures remain high and dry.
Off the back of the worst floods in Murwillumbah's history in 2017, the Council's Industry Central Land Swap Project aims to relocate businesses away from flood-prone areas.
Seven local businesses have been endorsed and are likely to be permanently relocated in the council's strategy preserving 140 full-time jobs across a diverse range of industries including retail, manufacturing, automotive services, recycling and logistics.
Ex-tropical cyclone Debbie caused record rainfall which had the Tweed River peaking at 6.25m at Murwillumbah which is 0.21m above the 1954 record.
As a reaction, council purchased 14.02ha of flood-free land at Industry Central, Murwillumbah with $3 million funding from the NSW Government to create resilience and protect local jobs.
The initiative allowed eligible land owners to enter an expression of interest process to swap their flood-prone land with the council-owned, flood-free land.
Following a rigorous third-party assessment, council has voted unanimously at the November meeting to endorse eight local organisations to sign up to the arrangement of the 12 who applied.
The successful applicants are all long-term local businesses including 30 Marine Parade Pty Ltd, All Home Products and Improvements, JH and EJ Williams Pty Ltd, Mick Bourke Transport, Murwillumbah Truck Centre, North Commercial Pty Ltd (Hayes Steel) and O'Connors Transport Murwillumbah.
Council's Depot, where millions of dollars worth of machinery and equipment was damaged in the flood, was also successful in its application to relocate.
The next phase of the project involves the preparation of allotment allocation plans, execution of Land Exchange Agreement Deeds and the preparation of contracts for sale of land.
When this work is complete council will commence the task of undertaking the land subdivision.
Businesses will have up to 10 years to rebuild and relocate and their former flood-prone land will be 'back zoned', most likely for community uses, in order to remove physical impediments from the flood plain.
Acting manager land and economic development Ray Musgrave said hundreds of jobs were heavily impacted by the 2017 flood and this is a step towards protecting those that were most severely affected from future flooding.
"The relocation of these businesses to flood-free land will give them long term resilience to climate change and give them the confidence to invest and grow in the future and we expect that this project will protect existing jobs as well as create new job opportunities," Mr Musgrave said.
He explained it was hoped the 140 jobs preserved would turn into 220 full-time jobs as the businesses grew.
"Businesses will have the security of knowing they are not in a flood-prone area and therefore they can invest without the threat of another major flood event," Mr Musgrave said.
"This land swap deal is the result of an initiative that was cleverly designed by Tweed Shire Council just 10 days after the flood."
The project has just won the NSW section of the Resilient Australia Awards in the Local Government category and now moves on for consideration in the national awards in a few months' time.
For more information visit yoursaytweed.com.au/landswap.