THE RECENT listing of two industrial lots in the proposed Moree Special Activation Precinct (SAP) is set to test interest in the project which has been touted as a major new grains and agricultural industry business hub for the region.
Covering an area of 4716 hectares, the New South Wales government-led Moree SAP will be a dedicated area featuring new infrastructure and streamlined planning processes aimed at attracting grains value-adding and logistics businesses.
GrainCorp, CHS Broadbent, Nufarm Australia and Manildra Grains are already located within the development area.
The development is also in close proximity to the Newell Highway, Moree Airport and the proposed Inland Rail alignment.
The two industrial sites, being offered by Ray White Rural NSW agent Chris Malone in conjunction with Ray White Rural Moree agent Ed Wisemantel, will be the first sites in the SAP with Inland Rail frontage to be available for development.
Located just north of the GrainCorp facility, the lots, totaling 9.86ha, are being offered via expressions of interest together or as separate investments.
Mr Malone said the smaller of the holdings features a grain-processing plant with main storage shed, mill area, and silo storage comprising four 500-tonne elevated silos.
He said machinery associated with cleaning, grading, hulling, flake-rolling, cooking, drying, cooling and out-loading are within this plant.
Originally the Continental Grain site, it has been improved under subsequent ownership in recent years.
The other lot is a 7.4ha undeveloped industrial site, which is currently partially leased.
“For an agri-logistics opportunity, it’s huge,” Mr Malone said.
“It is the first of its kind to come to market since the SAP was announced that also has frontage to the new Inland Rail.
“There were other things that have been on the market, but they don’t have that accessibility to rail.”
He said the recent Inland Rail and SAP developments have only worked to increase the “huge potential” of the site.
“It is ultimately a blue-chip agri-investment opportunity underpinned by government-backed projects, in the SAP and Inland Rail.
“The SAP and the government’s commitment to an agricultural hub there is real.
“The initial inquiry has been good; we have fielded inquiries from a number of parties in that commodities trading sort of sector.
“It has been a positive start to the campaign.”
The Moree project is one of five SAP developments in the pipeline, with others at Parkes, Wagga Wagga, Jindabyne and Williamtown.
Due to its location, this SAP the only project which will have a direct focus on developing the value-added grains industry and agricultural freight and logistics.
Originally announced in late 2019, movement on the project appeared to stall until the NSW government in March committed $194 million to kick start the Moree SAP.
The SAP draft delivery plan went on public display last month which set out the criteria for the project’s design, landscaping, infrastructure planning, delivery and proposal assessment.
Northern Tablelands Member of Parliament Adam Marshall said in a statement last month that this funding will enable more planning and construction to commence.
He said the funding would also get preliminary works started to open around 950ha of land in the central part of the industrial precinct.
“Over the next year we will see the physical aspects of Moree SAP take shape, with new and upgraded roads, gas, telecommunications, electricity and water, stormwater and wastewater infrastructure,” Mr Marshall said.
“There is no excuse for industry and investors to hold off planning their relocation to Moree.
“This funding kicks the delivery of this major industrial area into gear and drives the region towards its goal of creating 4000 jobs for the people of the Moree Plains by 2060.”
Further to this funding, several works on adjoining road networks have been completed and started this year in anticipation of the SAP works.
This includes the commencement of Newell Highway works between Narrabri and Moree as well as the opening of the Tapscott Road extension to connect Burrington Road with the Newell Highway.
SAP interest grows
Despite early skepticism about the scale and scope of the project, early local and grains industry feedback appear to be positive.
While no new businesses have made public their interest in the site, it is believed both state and local governments are in talks with grains, horticulture, and logistics firms about opening at the SAP.
Existing businesses are also enthusiast about the project and have hopes that it will create renewed interest in the town from the agricultural industry as well as more sector workers.
Moree Chamber of Commerce president, business owner and grain grower Dibs Cush said the overwhelming sentiment of the community has been positive.
“With the SAP there is a lot of positivity and excitement,” Ms Cush said.
“The only negativity has been that skepticism around whether it will happen…and once it does start to happen, that is the confirmation that yes this is a good thing.”
She said the project will “future proof” the community and ensure it can continue to be the township that services the surrounding grain growing regions.
Ms Cush said every small community is experiencing supply chain issues and higher freight costs and the prospect of the SAP and adjourning Inland Rail line has created hope for local businesses.
“Moree is no different to any other town, but I think having the SAP is potentially going to, rather than going backwards and losing population, have people coming in.”
Shepherd Grains is one of the grains businesses already located within the Moree SAP.
Shepherd Grains director John Shepherd said the combination of the SAP with an upgraded road network and the Inland Rail will create endless opportunities his and other businesses.
He said for a business that uses mostly container freight, the prospect of the Inland Rail passing close to their site is exciting.
He said currently the most economical route to port is via road to Brisbane; however, the Inland Rail will open up new options to move goods offshore.
“With the Inland and the SAP, it is going to give us access to containers, access to ships or shipping spaces out of Sydney and Melbourne,” Mr Shepherd said.
“There should be a decrease in freight rates making us more competitive.”
Like Ms Cush, Mr Shepherd said he hopes the project will also result in more potential workers wanting to make Moree their home.
“When you have a bigger business centre, then there are more people, more jobs and then hopefully different industries.
“It will hopefully make it more attractive for people to come to Moree and be easier to get work and therefore easier to get workers which is the big thing at the moment.”
Inland Rail works in tandem
The SAP project developments have come at a time when the aligned Inland Rail works are also ramping up.
It is anticipated that the Federal Government funded, and Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) led project will be encompassed within the Moree SAP with businesses able to access the line to transport goods to NSW or Queensland ports.
The Moree to Camurra section of the Inland Rail is phase one of the Narrabri to North Star alignment and is currently in the approvals stage.
Phase two, Narrabri North to North Star, will include upgrades to existing lines and is currently under construction.
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