FROM THE GROUND UP: SDRC identified the five major developments the Southern Downs can look forward to over the coming years. (AAP IMAGE / Robert Pozo)
FROM THE GROUND UP: SDRC identified the five major developments the Southern Downs can look forward to over the coming years. (AAP IMAGE / Robert Pozo)

TOP 5: Key developments to shape Southern Downs

THERE are five key developments that may shape the Southern Downs over the coming years, with the potential to further the regionalisation of Queensland and propel Warwick into a bigger and brighter future.

Location remains key to attracting these developments, according to Southern Downs Mayor Vic Pennisi, who claims short travel times, cheaper prices and quality of life act as a drawcard for growing businesses.

During a portfolio meeting held in late June, the Mayor identified which projects residents should keep an eye on. The Daily News breaks it down for you.

Greater opportunities for Watco crew members, such as those pictured here.
Greater opportunities for Watco crew members, such as those pictured here.

Watco and potential subsidiary developments

TRANSPORTATION giant Watco rolled into the Rose City in 2018 after the Kansas company took over a grain haulage contract previously held by Aurizon.

Since then, the facility has provided a number of job opportunities for diesel fitters and turners, making every effort to employ locals during the development stage.

Construction is on track to complete the full fleet of 13 locomotives soon, necessitating the further employment of up to 24 locomotive drivers.

Industry leaders claim the development could double freight haulage in Warwick by 2040.

Watco maintenance supervisor Shane Kraschnefski told the Daily News that, while the business was in for the long haul regardless, the outcome of Inland Rail discussions could open up even more freight opportunities in the Rose City.

A rendering of what the McIntyre Wind Farm will look like, 50km west of Warwick.
A rendering of what the McIntyre Wind Farm will look like, 50km west of Warwick.

Acciona and the Macintyre Wind Farm

THE Southern and Western Downs regions are set to become national hubs for renewable energy after plans were approved to construct a $1.96 billion wind farm near Karara.

The MacIntyre Wind Farm Precinct aims to turn sheep grazing land into a hive of activity, with up to 180 turbines producing energy for around 700,000 homes across the state.

Mayor Vic Pennisi predicts the construction phase could bring hundreds of new people into town, looking for accommodation, activities and food.

“It will have a huge impact on the region,” he said.

“It’s great for the economy.”

Construction is predicted to begin mid 2021 and take between 18 to 24 months to complete.

Andrew Corney celebrates the impending expansion at Integria Warwick.
Andrew Corney celebrates the impending expansion at Integria Warwick.

Integria Healthcare

A $7 million expansion of Integria Healthcare was announced in February, following the company’s decision to turn its Warwick base into a fully-integrated process and packaging facility.

Chief executive Michael Braka said the development would provide up to 20 new jobs and attract people with skills and talent in natural medicine to the region.

The expansion offered renewed job confidence to existing workers and offered the Warwick economy hope in a period of drought and downturn.

Construction is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

An Inland Rail route through Warwick could enable Watco to expand its operations in Warwick.
An Inland Rail route through Warwick could enable Watco to expand its operations in Warwick.

Inland Rail

THE $10 billion inland rail project could deliver significant economic benefits to the Southern Downs should the proposed Border to Gowrie route be changed, according to Cr Pennisi.

A diversion through Warwick would result in upgraded railways and better maintenance along the Queensland Rail line, allowing additional freight to move through the region and for pre-existing companies such as Watco to expand their operations.

Cr Pennisi said he had no idea what the outcome of the independent route review would be, but said he would be “speaking up for the Southern Downs”.

“We have to make sure we do whatever we can to advocate on (Watco’s) behalf to make sure they stay viable and stay in this town,” he said.

“I don’t want to lose the rail line capacity we have here, if they are no longer maintained there will be big implications for us.”

There is potential for police expansion in Warwick, though little is currently known of the proposed project.
There is potential for police expansion in Warwick, though little is currently known of the proposed project.

Potential for the relocation of the Queensland Police precinct

THERE are whispers of a major development within the Queensland Police force, which could potentially target Warwick as an area for growth. Cr Pennisi said while he didn’t have any “insider knowledge” he understood the Warwick facility had outgrown its space.

“Those facilities are heavily used, and they were built some time ago,” Cr Pennisi said.

“There’s a state election coming up, so I will be speaking up on that because it will give us a big injection of capital and there will be some regionalisation if it goes ahead.

“I’m very keen to advocate for that project, but it’s not our decision to make.”

The Daily News has reached out to the Queensland Police Service for further information.



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