Marine centre awaits Shire tick

Shannon BeattiePilbara News
Exmouth's Ningaloo Centre.
Camera IconExmouth's Ningaloo Centre. Credit: Tom Zaunmayr.

A state-of-the-art marine research facility, run by Andrew Forrest's Minderoo Foundation, which would draw international scientists to Exmouth, is all but locked in for the Ningaloo Centre.

Minderoo and the Shire have spent the least 12 months negotiating the lease agreement, with the two parties finally agreeing on the terms for the Flourishing Oceans Research Centre last week.

Shire president Matthew Niikkula said the council intended to rent the facility to the Minderoo Foundation for a peppercorn amount in recognition of the significant benefits the centre would bring to the region.

“The proposal that is set to be put to council does indeed have the yearly lease set at rate of $1 per annum for the duration of the lease,” he said.

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“The area in question was purpose built and funded on the basis it would deliver marine research, it is not deemed as commercial space, and the Minderoo Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation which aims to fund and facilitate world-class marine science and research right here in Exmouth.”

Minderoo Foundation’s Flourishing Oceans research lead Rory McAuley said they planned to spend more than $2.5 million on extensive upgrades to the Ningaloo marine research centre, plus millions of dollars on purchasing and bringing research vessels to Exmouth.

“The Flourishing Oceans Research Centre will generate new jobs and provide training and volunteer opportunities for school and TAFE students,” he said.

“Minderoo is engaging with local businesses and will invite them to tender on building works and ongoing maintenance of facilities and operational assets, including boats, seawater systems, accommodation and vehicles.”

Mr Niikkula said the project must be viewed in light of the ongoing economic prosperity it would bring to Exmouth. “The Flourishing Oceans research initiative will also put Exmouth and Ningaloo on the international research map and is confident it will be able to attract leading Australian and International researchers to the region,” he said.

The council will meet tomorrow to decide the length of the lease and whether to approve the agreement.

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