Government eyes Ord development

MORE than four years after Wesfarmers scrapped plans for a giant sugar project on the Ord River irrigation scheme, the state government is seeking to revive development of the area. It has called for private sector expressions of interest to develop between 7,000 and 16,000 hectares in the Ord’s stage 2 area. The news has been welcomed by Kimberley Primary Industries Association executive officer David McKerrell, who said local farmers were very pleased with the news. But it remains unclear what development will happen. The viability of the sugar industry has been marginal in recent years and South Korean company, CJ Ord Sugar, is still evaluating an expansion of its mill. Trials of genetically modified cotton have been very successful but the government has a mora-torium on GM crops until 2008. The government appointed consulting firm Marsden Jacobs in 2003 to prepare businesses cases for staged development of the Ord but its report has never been made public. The government was also aiming to have land released in the Northern Territory, which contains about half of the stage 2 area, but has not reached agreement with the NT government.

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