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RDA welcomes Lakeland Irrigation Area Project


RDA Tropical North Chair David Kempton has welcomed the Deputy Prime Minister’s announcement of $10m to take the Lakeland Irrigation Area Project one step closer to fruition and acknowledges Warren Entsch, the member for Leichhardt for his ongoing support.

The proposed 200ML dam on the Palmer River will irrigate up to 10,000 ha in the Lakeland basin providing over 1,000 jobs and generating over $1b a year to the northern economy.

“This is the most exciting infrastructure project to come out of our region in decades and arose from a discussion with growers years ago about the potential for Lakeland if there was improved water security.” David stated.

“The Palmer River Dam, an RDA TN initiative, ticks all the boxes economically and environmentally with enormous opportunity for the community including many Indigenous groups. The project is well positioned to lead the economic recovery of our region post pandemic” David said.

RDA has appointed SMEC as project managers, under the direction of RDA Project Director, Tony Potter and has assembled a stakeholder Advisory Committee including Lakeland growers, Francis Inderbitzin of Red Valley Bananas and Cameron Mackay from Mackay Farms to oversee the project.

“I’m very excited about the project especially for the people in the community and surrounding areas,” said Francis. “Services will improve, and many new opportunities will arise for all involved providing for an exciting and secure future”.

Cameron Mackay has also welcomed the news saying “This is a long term investment in our regional economy which will enable McKay Farms to expand and diversify its agriculture and horticulture pursuits and employ at least another 100 people in its business alone. Water security is pivotal to the success of the industry in Lakeland."

RDA Board member and FNQ Growers Chair, Joe Moro is also keen to see the project progress “The Lakeland Irrigation Scheme is very important for the long term capacity of the region to continue to grow as a food bowl for Australia and parts of the world”.

“It will provide farmers in the region the opportunity to consolidate, expand and diversify their businesses; providing resilience against the economic downturns that can occur with individual commodities,” Joe said.

Cook Shire Mayor, Peter Scott is delighted with the announcement. "I want to pay tribute to the local Lakeland growers and RDA Tropical North for the initiative they have shown in getting this project underway,” he said.


The Lakeland Irrigation Area Scheme is a key part of RDATN strategy for regional recovery post COVID-19.

SMEC is due to deliver the first of nine project milestones this week and will be putting the major components of the project out to tender in the coming weeks with the business case and preliminary design due in 2022.

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