Emerald's inland port vision tracks ahead
IT IS more of a rail dream than a pipe dream but, either way, Emerald becoming an inland port has taken a step closer to reality.
With Yamala declared as the preferred site for the port because of the good quality of the train tracks, it is now over to local industries to make their case.
But Department of Transport and Main Roads Freight, Ports and Governance executive director Damian Colclough said, without private stakeholder investment, an inland port could be a long way off.
"If you're going to rely on the government to do all the investment, then you might be waiting a long time," Mr Colclough said.
He said the project was progressing well and he hoped to be in a position to report to the State Government in 12 to 18 months on its viability.
At the CHDC Investing in Our Future conference, Mr Colclough joined North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation chief executive officer Brad Fish and EsSCO managing director Liam Stitt on a discussion panel.
Mr Stitt said unity would ensure the project's success.
He said, to be successful, local businesses needed to work together.
"Get a group of like-minded people who understand what supply chains are," he said.
"Develop some high-level thinking in the area so that the people who want to develop the land for the terminal can go to a residents' group that want to throw a whole heap of other activities there.
"If you've got 20 businesses wanting to take advantage ... then you've got something that's got a life."
Mr Fish said rail goes both ways, literally.
"It's not just the mining industry, it's a whole new bank of opportunities for the agricultural industry," he said.
"... looking to get freight going both ways, it may work with freight going one way but it definitely works better with freight going both ways.
"It's an exciting time; the inland port is a concept that, as David said, grew a little while ago, but it's getting legs very quickly."
Mr Colclough said the State Government was looking at the bigger picture, with a possible inland port getting trucks off the road, making it safer for everyone.
Citing recent fuel tanker crashes resulting in deaths in the region, Mr Colclough said anything which increased safety was worth considering.
Stage two of the process had begun, with Mr Colclough's team talking to stakeholders.
Inland port proposal
Why: Flat, not close to homes, good proximity to roads and rail, good-quality rail lines.
Current stage: Stage one of infrastructure analysis complete. Stage two: talking to stakeholders.