Private investment in the Hunter has hit record levels, with $4.36billion worth of projects in the pipeline.Hunter Valley Research Foundation data for January to March shows the total value of the projects is up $1billion from the same time last year.
Macquarie Generation is leading the charge with approval to build a $2billion power station at Muswellbrook and $670million is planned for a coal loader expansion by Port Waratah Coal Services.Hunter Development Corporation chairman Paul Broad said he had never seen such levels of private investment to complement government spending in the region before.
‘‘Relative to the rest of the economy the Hunter is leading the investment part of NSW and that is primarily coming from private investment,’’ Mr Broad said.‘‘It is an exciting time for the Hunter and it is reflecting the major changes in the Hunter economy.’’A Port Waratah Coal Services spokesman said now was a good time to invest.
‘‘The Hunter Valley coal industry has signalled loud and clear it wants to increase coal exports,’’ he said.‘‘Which means a lot of focus is on ensuring the right infrastructure is in place.‘‘We are talking about very expensive infrastructure that will stimulate economic activity and create many jobs in coming years.’’
Another major private investment proposal is from the Overdean Group for a $470million golfing-lifestyle estate on the Singleton Golf Club site.
The 166-hectare Gowrie Links Estate will incorporate 725 houses and an 18-hole championship golf course and has been five years in the planning system.The group lodged its application with the State Government to rezone the land from rural to residential in 2005. It was approved in 2008.
The state government approved the $190million Kyoto Energy Park in February but work has not started on the 34 wind turbines, a hydro-electric generator and 100 hectares of solar panels.Prominent Hunter developer Hilton Grugeon said the region was growing at a faster rate than predicted, but it still had untapped potential.
‘‘The figures that have been invested in the last 12months are still not what could be invested,’’ he said.‘‘We still haven’t reached our potential.
‘‘The confidence in the Hunter is there and yet there’s still a lot more we could do.’’Mr Grugeon said inner-city Newcastle’s stagnation could be addressed if the state government acted on the Hunter Development Corporation city centre renewal report.
(BY NEIL GOFFET AND JACQUI JONES, 13 Jul, 2010 05:00 AM)