Key make-or-break projects to the Eden and wider Bega Valley economy are less of a pipedream and more of a reality after the Regional Development Australia Fund (RDAF) Expression of Interest phase concluded last week.
Eden-based projects were successful in moving through to the final round of full submissions, which could see as much as $15.5 million made available to build Eden infrastructure from the Federal Government’s RDAF.
The larger infrastructure project, the Snug Cove re-development ($15 million) includes an extension to the breakwater wharf capable of accommodating cruise ships, and a wave attenuator as a foundation of a larger marina precinct. It now proceeds to a full application under RDAF round 4 after last week’s announcement.
A second smaller project which would see upgrades to the Sapphire Coast Marine Discovery Centre to the value of $500,000 will also go to a full application.
What does this mean for Eden?
The RDAF process is viewed by many locally and across all tiers of government as Eden’s last shot at securing funding to transform the port precinct, and build essential infrastructure which could secure long-term cruise ship visits and a marina.
That would mean jobs for Eden and beyond, and the establishment of industries associated with providing the necessary services to support such infrastructure.
But the Eden submissions will be just two of hundreds from across Australia all vying for a share of $50 million in RDAF round 3 grants, and $175 million for RDAF round 4.
An intense five-week planning process is now underway to complete and submit the full applications.
Bega Valley Shire Council general manager Peter Tegart called project stakeholders to Snug Cove yesterday morning for a task force meeting to start that process.
“I’ve called together representatives from Cruise Eden, the Port of Eden Marina Inc (POEM), the Eden Chamber of Commerce, NSW Maritime and the Sapphire Coast Marine Discovery Centre in the harbour masters office this morning to start to get a lot more detail together,” Mr Tegart said during a break in proceedings yesterday.
“We need to do the master plan again for Snug Cove, do wave modelling and an updated economic feasibility case,” he said.
“We need to secure $15 million from the Federal Government (through the RDAF round 4 process), get State Government commitment for another $5-6 million, $2 million from council and a further $6 million from private investors for the marina (component) to pull this off.
“There’s a lot of work to do.
“It still requires a letter of commitment from the State Government and the Marina operator. We should get this.
“We also have to convince the State Government of the project’s worth.
In our favour, we are only one of two port projects seeking funding (the other project is improvements to the Norfolk Island Port Facility). There are a stack of airports seeking funding so it’s highly competitive in that (airports) area.
“It may be one of the last opportunities to do this given we’re in an election year. But we’ve taken a bipartisan approach and certainly there is an agreement for state and federal RDA committees to be funded for the next three years regardless of the election outcome.
“We will take the opportunity to talk with opposition Minister for Tourism Bob Baldwin when he comes to Eden next Thursday”, Peter Tegart said.
“Now the hard yards start to have the studies, reports, designs and feasibility work done to prove we’re shovel-ready to start.”