Council takes next step to cultivate bright prospects

Council is moving forward with plans to develop two economic diversification projects which would generate jobs and attract business investment to the city.

Two separate studies have been completed which identified suitable sites for commercial-scale solar and wind energy farms and an intensive agriculture business.

City of Karratha Mayor Peter Long said the study into solar and wind power land supply options found northern WA has one of the best solar resources in the world.

“More than 119,000 hectares of land was identified as highly suitable for commercial-scale solar electricity generation, with 7245 hectares highly suitable for wind energy,” Cr Long said.

“Five suitable solar power sites have been identified, with one site large enough that the solar energy generated could be exported.”

“Council has been working hard to develop renewable industries for a long time, and the Pilbara sun already generates a large portion of Karratha Airport’s power needs, with the first-of-its-kind solar farm supplying the airport’s operations.”

The feasibility study to assess if intensive agriculture was a commercially viable and sustainable industry identified a site within the City’s Airport Reserve, known as the Eco Hub, as the best location.

The study looked at tomatoes as a potential crop and assessed two scenarios – two hectares of greenhouses and 20 hectares of greenhouses.

Cr Long said the study found the 20-hectare scenario could produce 13 million kilograms of tomatoes per year.

“To put that into scale, that is nearly 2000 per cent of the Pilbara’s demand for tomatoes, so there would be significant export potential,” Cr Long said.

Intensive agriculture businesses generate approximately five to 10 jobs per hectare, the study found.

“This means the smaller option could create up to 20 jobs while the larger option could employ up to 200 people if it went ahead,” Cr Long said.

“These projects are great examples of our efforts to diversify into more sustainable industries so business in Karratha isn’t restricted to the resources sector.”

Council is committed to investment attraction in the city and will continue to highlight opportunity for developers and identify suitable sites for these kinds of projects.