LISMORE City Council is scurrying to bring forward the planned completion date of the desperately needed southern trunk sewerage line to take advantage of an interest-free loan from the State Government.
Minister for Planning Tony Kelly announced this week it would provide a $6 million interest-free loan to the council which would fully fund the sewerage line that is holding up the release of new residential land in Goonellabah.
The catch is the work must be completed within 18 months of the loan being issued.
Lismore City Council’s infrastructure services executive director, Garry Hemsworth, yesterday said council staff was currently developing a timeframe for the project which would be delivered to councillors in March.
“Council will make every effort to meet the timeframe necessary to access this funding,” he told The Northern Star.
“A report is being prepared for the March council meeting to address the priority of this and other major projects in the water and wastewater area.”
Councillor Graham Meineke told the council meeting in July last year the lack of capacity in Lismore’s sewerage system was the biggest threat to the town’s growth in recent years.
Last month, council voted to defer the promised Clunes sewerage system until 2014/15 so it could bring forward construction of the southern trunk line for Lismore.
Mr Hemsworth said yesterday the construction of the line was critical to the further development of Lismore.
“Without this work the capacity of the existing system would soon be reached and no further residential development of land in East Lismore or Goonellabah would be possible,” he said.
Mr Hemsworth said it was unclear at this stage if bringing the project forward to meet the 18-month deadline would affect other major projects.
However, he added the council was considering outsourcing some work and may delay the start date of the Environmental Impact Study for the Clunes project, although this should not affect its completion date.
“This issue will be addressed in the report to the March council meeting,” he said.
NSW Premier Kristina Keneally has announced more than $170 million in interest-free loans for 37 projects across 33 high growth council areas that met the criteria for funding under the Local Infrastructure Fund.
Mr Kelly said the fund aimed to bring forward local infrastructure projects that had been delayed due to lack of funding shortfalls that were holding back urban development.
“The interest-free loan will help councils to not only deliver important water, sewer, drainage and roads infrastructure, but also progress new urban development and stimulate local employment,” Mr Kelly said.
“All projects funded are on the grounds works will provide an immediate boost to local communities.
“Projects are expected to be completed within 18 months of the loan being issued and the loan repaid within 10 years.”