EcoHub holds promise for City of Karratha

Alicia PereraPilbara News
An artist’s impression of a large scale arid desert project similar to what could be built by Sahara Forest Project.
Camera IconAn artist’s impression of a large scale arid desert project similar to what could be built by Sahara Forest Project. Credit: Sahara Forest Project

The creation of a business park for innovative emerging industries on the outskirts of Karratha could generate more than 400 jobs and inject more than $200 million into the local economy, according to a report on the development’s prospects.

A business case report on the City of Karratha’s proposed EcoHub — a 131ha area of land near Karratha Airport that would be dedicated to renewable energy-based enterprises — recommends that the City should buy the site and lease out lots to prospective companies.

While the full report is confidential, released results state the project could create up to 406 jobs, inject an extra $241 million into the economy, and boost Karratha’s gross regional product by $103.8 million.

City Mayor Peter Long said the EcoHub project had been sparked by growing industry interest in the region.

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“A number of high-tech renewable enterprises are looking to set up in Karratha so council is investigating opportunities to create a collocated precinct to make this commercially viable for the proponents,” he said.

“Council’s role would be to facilitate the development by providing access to the land and basic infrastructure, such as roads and utilities.”

Prospective proponents include the Sahara Forest Project, while EcoMag, Rainstorm and WRS Bioproducts are working to secure leases on lots neighbouring the area.

The report also recommends that the City should develop a marketing strategy to target specific industries if it pursues the project.

Pilbara Development Commission chief executive Terry Hill said establishing the EcoHub could help build a stronger and more sustainable Pilbara economy underpinned by new technology, which could generate new sources of investment and local employment.

He said the released results of the business plan were promising.

“There is global recognition that clusters of like industries and businesses can create significant economic benefits — Silicon Valley is an obvious example,” he said.

“Clusters of related business spur three important activities: increased productivity; more rapid innovation; and new business formation.”

“Establishing a development zone for renewable energy, co-located with other high-tech industries, is a significant step in diversifying and expanding the Pilbara’s economic base and positioning the Pilbara as a global hub of renewable energy.”

The City is exploring options for the EcoHub and will consider whether to allocate money to the project in the 2019-20 budget.

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